Be Concise & Well-Organized
Less is more. Users are often better served by content that is concise as opposed to exhaustively thorough.
- Keep it simple. Use short sentences and short paragraphs.
- Use meaningful section headings to split content up into readable length.
- Use bulleted lists or numbered lists (when information is sequential) to group related information in chunks and make it easy to skim.
- Resources listed in order of importance rather than alphabetically, as students tend to use the first resources listed.
- Keep lists of resources short – maybe to the top five key resources featured prominently. One may also consider breaking long lists of resources into different link groups based on similar content type.
Consider Your Users
Most content should be geared towards our users, not ourselves. Think about what tasks your users need to do and how your content can help them do that.
- Use plain language (avoid jargon, slang, idioms, and acronyms; use common words over more difficult ones; use active voice; it’s ok to address the user as “you”).
- Don’t bury the lead. Put the most important information at the top of the page.
- Provide a clear “call to action.” If next steps are needed, don’t bury them as links in the middle of a paragraph – separate them out to draw attention to them.
- Be inclusive: use gender-neutral terms; use B.C.E. and C.E. instead of B.C. and A.D.
Make It Easier to Find
- Make sure guide and page titles provide context. Keep the titles short, descriptive and consistent.
- Add subject and include keywords using tags.
- Use friendly URLs. Friendly URLs increase the usability of guides, as patrons are more likely to remember and reuse a guide if the URL is short and easy. Best practice for new guides is to create a friendly URL using the guide’s title.
Be Selective & Future-friendly
Creating and maintaining high-quality content can be time-consuming. Do your future self a favor and consider whether your decisions will cause more work than is necessary in the future.
- Focus on creating content that only the library could provide. Remember that any page you create will need to be maintained regularly in the future so be selective about what you choose to create.
- Avoid providing content through a linked PDF (that is hard to update).
- Use language that won’t need updating. For example, instead of “The new classroom will become available in September 2015” say “As of September, 2015 the classroom is available…”
Refer to Content Style Guide prepared by Suzanne Chapman for guidelines and best practices on library web content style.