Re: Responses to web style guide question

Subject: Re: Responses to web style guide question
From: "Michael A. Lewis" <lewism -at- BRANDLE -dot- COM -dot- AU>
Date: Wed, 15 Oct 1997 09:58:50 +1000

Janice Gelb wrote:
> In fact, in case anyone is going to re-use this list and wants to
> provide a credit, I'm the one who compiled it. Finding sources that
> concentrated on web writing rather than page design was not easy,
> either!!!

I don't choose to repeat the contents of Janice's list here; I merely
comment that good writing for the web is not very different from (or,
for US readers, not very different than) good technical or business
writing for any other medium.

In particular, we tend to be showered with arguments that the web is a
visual medium, so we shouldn't use much text. This is one of the great
fallacies of our time. Web pages are inherently no more visual than
sheets of paper. Certainly, the fact that a computer screen isn't as
flexible as a book means that a lot of different design decisions are
required, but the primary issues are the nature of the information to be
conveyed and the kind of cognitive processes the reader / viewer has to
perform. If you are putting information into words, the choice of words
should be governed by the reader's needs, not by the difference between
screen and paper.

Where the screen / paper issue does come in is in chunking -- we can
expect some readers, in some situations, to read six pages of running
prose, but scrolling through the same amount (much more than six
screenfuls) is nobody's idea of fun.
Michael Lewis
Brandle Pty Limited
PO Box 1249
Strawberry Hills, NSW 2012

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