I’d like to republish here my article in this month’s CommunityNet Aotearoa Panui, May 2004. I think it’s a quick, useful starter for anyone who has a website.
This month our Website Review takes a slightly different turn. We present you with …
[May 2004] Top Three Tips for Tremendous Sites.
Tip 1 Alternate Text
Does your website include picture, sounds or movies? Each of these must have “alternate text” (otherwise known as “alt text”) which can replace that content if necessary.
Things happen: a visitor has their pictures switched off, your web designer makes a mistake, the visitor uses a cellphone or is blind, Google can’t see pictures or listen to music. Your website needs to still make sense and be usable even without the pictures, sound and movies.
Excellent specific information is on Alan J Flavell’s page.
See great alt text in action at: www.nzhistory.net.nz/Gallery/scenic.
Tip 2: Meaningful Link Text
When you make a link to another page put the link on the most important words.
Link text is the wording people click on to get more information. “Click here” is the worst possible thing to make into a link. Search engines and some visitors call up a list of just links. Imagine seeing only “click here” repeated a dozen times! Visitors with cellphones or certain visual disabilities may see only a dozen words at a time. Make each word count.
Make links on real content words and phrases such as “Brochures”, “Information” or “How to join”.
See good link text at: xiamen.wellington.net.nz.
Tip 3: Plain Language
When you write your text use plenty of headings, keep sentences short and choose ordinary words which are easy to understand.
All sorts of people will visit your website. They may be well educated or have left school early. They may have grown up speaking English or have only a basic grasp of the language. They may be tired or in a hurry. They won’t read every word you’ve written but will skim the headings on screen and latch on to one or two points.
Rachel McAlpine’s article Think Web — before you start writing web content is a good starting point.
See good writing at: www.fpanz.org.nz.