Monday, August 29, 2011

Little things add up in web pages

I fear the content audit of our site is making me a tad obsessive - little things are starting to stick out and I want to hit them with a hammer. 

I'm seeing many example of pages being renewed without any obvious review of content and little things are annoying me, like this line in a big page.
Wikipedia has a very good section on Australian Copyright law. See Wikipedia Online.
Why would you append 'Online' to Wikipedia? Is there a print version? The link doesn't work any more (but not obviously, an auto link checker wouldn't pick up that the intext anchor to Australian_Copyright_Law no longer exists, because the general copyright page in Wikipedia is still there, no error 404).

Then there's the question of the link text's relationship to the actual link.  If your link text is 'Wikipedia Online' then the user expectation (and Google's) is that the underlying link will be to Wikipedia Online, not some sub page. If you're linking to an item on Australian Copyright Law, then that's your link text.

On the plus side I'm a fan of linking to in-depth explanations on sites better equipped to provide current accurate content rather than trying to maintain our own bowdlerised versions of information, especially when the bulk of users won't have any interest in seeing that sort of detail.

My other plus is that the phrase 'check out this ' hasn't been used. I hate that phrase.

I have problems with the pseudo-review phrase 'very good'; would we link to a 'very bad' Wikipedia article?  Are we confident the Wikipedia article will remain good?

So I ended up with:
See Wikipedia for more on Australian Copyright law.
That's about 60% of the text we started with, and no loss of meaning.

The tough thing for us is not only acquiring editing and writing for the web skills, but finding the time to apply them. I hope with this example (yet another in a long series of nags) you might spare five minutes on the next page you review and see if you can improve it even a little.

A gold star if you can  give me an example of where you've used Steve Krug's 'cut out half of the words, then cut out half of what's left' method!

1 comment:

Alan @JCU Library said...

I just found a page that refers to 'Electronic' databases. Just to distinguish if from the large rang of non-electronic databases we have.