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Web Texting: Guiding the Attention of the Visitors

Today I was on the annual networking meeting of Swiss NGOs. This time we met at the office of Amnesty International, and the group was larger than the years before. It is a fascinating group of web communicators from about 20 NGOs such as Greenpeace, WWF, and others active in the fields of social, health and environmental groups.

Several members (me too) gave a review of what had been going on with their site during the last months, the highlights and challenges they had encountered and the new ideas or campaigns they had realised.

It is always very refreshing to see that others fight with similar problems or get inspiration from good ideas. One started with a quote from Homer Simpson (“security inspector of the Springfield atomic power plant”) : “The internet – does this nonsense still exist?”

In the afternoon we had a workshop with Sophie Graf, a consultant from the communication agency Bernet PR, Zurich: “Texting in the Internet”. Though many points mentioned were essentials of web writing, it was good to hear it from another perspective. On the cover of the hand-out there was a quote of Mark Twain: “If I had more time, I would have written less.”

We worked with a long text from the Clean Clothes Campaign to see how it should best be prepared for a web solidarity campaign: Get the central message into the title and the header, discuss what should be done with the rest of the text. A quote from the exposition: “The first 15 words are more important than the next 15’000 words.”

It was a good exercise, training to see the essentials and focus on a clear, short message. This is also very important for working with spiritual ideas or in other communication situations.

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Web texting: guiding the attention of the visitors. A scene in front of Bern Central Station this afternoon.

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2 Responses to “Web Texting: Guiding the Attention of the Visitors”

  1. Paige Says:

    Hi there,
    Your blog came up on my google news search and I am very curious about the training you mention and the work with our web text. Could you send me more information on the workshop and the suggestions you had for our text.

  2. Flowers on the Wayside Says:

    Dear Paige

    The text we got was in German, from the PR Agency Marcel Bernet, without mentioning where it had been published, but CCC was quoted at the beginning, so I thought that it was from CCC. It was about Adidas, Nike and Reebok clothes from Hermosa in El Salvador, from 2006/03/13 running over 2.5 pages. It was more an article style for a print magazine, where the facts were distributed throughout the text and the appeal for sending protest letters was at the end.

    We said that in the title you need the main facts and in the lead already the mentioning of the appeal. A proposal I brought in was:

    Workers for Adidas, Nike and Reebok cheated about 800 000 £ of their salary
    190 employes given notice after foundation of a labour union

    Then for the body text we said, first the facts, not in all details, then the appeal, then, if necessary, the background information. In the link column the links, of course also a picture. A picture text would be very important. And maybe the link to the appeal-form highlighted separately on the page, if possible.

    In general for the web – much shorter, nobody reads such a long text till the end (people scan web-texts, but don’t read them.

    The workshop was fascinating about media work on the web. We heard quite some observations which, though regularly working with news, are important to keep in mind (placing keywords for the search engines in the way people will be searching via Google etc), if possible no links into the text (people will click away, losing the page) or structuring the texts: one idea per paragraph, short sentences and paragraphs, bullets where possible…)

    Hope this helps you a bit.

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