Things to avoid
When writing for an electronic channel such as a website or social media, there are some things you should avoid.
- Spelling errors. Use the spell function in Ingeniux to proof your pages.
- All caps in large blocks of body copy. Upper and lowercase text is easier to read. Paragraphs of type in bold or italic should also be avoided.
- Centered type. Flush left copy is easier to read online.
- "This site is under construction." If it isn't finished, don't list it. Never put under construction on a CSB/SJU page.
- Broken links. Also, do not reference a link unless it has somewhere to go.
- Pop-up windows. Spontaneously opened windows can be unpredictable and unpleasant for many users.
- Opening links in a new window. Exceptions would be links to large pdf files or to unrelated sites.
- Pages with little content.
- Large file sizes.
- Hit counters.
- Blinking graphics.
- Unnecessary text. Writing for the web can be shorter and more to the point than traditional writing.
- Unnecessary graphics. Use text whenever possible, it downloads faster than graphics and results in better Search Engine Optimization. Ingeniux offers an option called "components" that are a combination of text and graphics. If you would like a component(s) created for your site, contact OMC.
- Background colors or patterns. It makes the text very hard to read.
- Use of underline for emphasis. Underlined text may be confused with a link. Use bold for emphasis.
- Stylizing text. Instead, format text by using the Style dropdown selections in Ingeniux. Do not enlarge text, bold an entire page of text, use heading formats for paragraph text, etc. All of these will make the page hard to read and appear less than professional. Please use the text and heading selections that are installed as part of our style sheets.
- Excessive use of exclamation points. Exclamation points are used to show excitement at the end of a sentence. Most conventional grammar rules and grammarians say that they really don't belong, or at a minimum that they should be used sparingly. Please limit the number of exclamation points you use on one page and only use them with full sentences.
- Nested tables for formatting content. Use nested tables sparingly and keep them simple and clean.
Do not use "Click here"
While there are many resources on the web that cite the deficiencies of using "click here," here are some of the most commonly cited:
- "Click here" is bad for search engines. If you say "For information on pneumonia, click here" search engines won't know that your document contains a link to a document about pneumonia. Some important search engines use the link text in estimating the relevance of a link. Using a descriptive link text thus helps users in finding documents they're interested in, potentially including your document due to a link text with some key word.
- There's usually a fairly simple way to do things better. Instead of the text "For information on pneumonia, click here," you could simply write "Pneumonia information."
- "Click here" just looks stupid
- "Click here" looks especially stupid when printed on paper
- "Click here" is useless in a list of links or when in "links reading" mode, or whenever a link text is considered as isolated from its textual or visual context
- "Click here" is device-dependent. There are several ways to follow a link, with or without a mouse. Users probably recognize what you mean, but you are still conveying the message that you think in a device-dependent way.
Additionally, it's extremely important to keep visitors with disabilities in mind. Usability expert Jakob Nielsen writes:
Users with dyslexia may have problems reading long pages and will be helped if the design facilitates scannability by proper use of headings...selecting words with high information content as hypertext anchors will help these users, as well as blind users, scan for interesting links (no "click here," please).