Plain Words – the Documentation and Training People
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Writing for Academic Websites – Training Course Outline
Academic websites are the shop window for an educational institution, as well as the place where staff and students look for information. They need to convey a lot of complex content in a way that supports the university or college’s public image.
Writers producing web copy must ensure that visitors can find the information they are looking for and that it’s easy to read. This course has been designed for people who want to write effective web–based documentation specifically for academic websites, either from scratch or based on existing material in a paper format.
Our web writing course gives you lots of tips on how to plan and structure your writing, how to recognise what makes a website good or bad, and how to write clearly and appropriately for your audience.
This is a practical writing course and as such does not cover graphic design, structuring your website and technical issues.
It contains exercises specifically created to be relevant to those writing in the educational environment.
What you will learn on this training course
By the end of the course, you will know how to:
- Apply the B.A.S.D.E.L.L. writing model to work in the most effective manner
- Consider the types of readers your site will attract and design and develop effective content for each
- Communicate complex information and minimise queries
- Structure information effectively for online access
- Make the most of social media
- Organise content into modular units that will improve the way your organisation captures, shares and manages knowledge
- Build navigation structures that relate to people’s needs for information
- Avoid “flat” information – where every piece of content has equal importance and is therefore difficult to search
- Sequence content – sequencing needs to be relevant but flexible allowing visitors to surf but not get lost
- Create reusable information – content must address the needs of all visitors regardless of how they access it
What our customers say
“A very thorough course and really good materials to take away which I think will be very useful to help me improve my writing for the web.”
JS, Oxford University Computing Services
“Alison's knowledge and expertise surpassed my expectations”
AW, Oxford University Computing Services
“One of the best courses I've been on for a long time”
JW, Oxford University Computing Services
How we deliver the Writing for Academic Websites course
It is available as a one-day private tutor-led course at your premises.
Private courses at your premises
We adopt a flexible approach so that even our standard courses are tailored to your needs. Our trainers are all professional writers as well as experienced trainers. They use their judgment on the day to adjust the content and pace of the course so that delegates get the training that is right for them. This is done by:
- Discussing your requirements with you before the course
- Assessing the pre-course questionnaires
- Discussing with the delegates at the start of the course their objectives and outcomes
- Checking throughout the day that objectives are being met.
We can also further adapt the course by:
1. A framework for success
- The B.A.S.D.E.L.L Business Writing Model
When you book we send you a questionnaire which we ask you to return to us before you attend the course. This enables our Trainers to assess your needs in advance.
2. Writing skills
- Plain Words’ rules for good writing
- How to edit text to make it lean
- Tips on formatting text
- Guidelines for headings – helping readers to scan text
- Headings catch the eye and break up the page – everything you need to know to write good ones
- How to make your content compelling – location, key messages, avoiding redundancies, graphics, creating appeal, getting the tone right, making it personal
- ‘Webifying’ offline documents – deciding when to use HTML, Word and PDF
- What information should be offline, what format works best
- Four factors for converting text
3. Devising a strategy for your website
- Setting an objective – why we need one, how to determine what it is and how it affects our writing style and tone of voice
- Questions to help you get your content right for staff, students and others: Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?
- The order in which material should be presented
- The importance of getting feedback from your readers
- Making your website accessible to those with disabilities – Who do you need to consider, what standards are there and how do we meet them?
- Using social media effectively – eight lessons for writers
4. Understanding how people read online
- Understanding the techniques people use to ‘read’ websites
- How to make your text scannable
- It takes two to communicate – why you need to understand your readers and anticipate their requirements
- Two versions of the same story – how to say the same thing in different ways to suit different audiences
- Tips for integrating graphics and media with text
- Readability (language, writing styles, etc) – inclusive writing, appropriate writing, conversational writing, polished writing
- Checklist of things to avoid
5. Structuring your information
- Creating a journey for your readers – What is it? Why bother? How to do it
- How to use mind mapping and storyboarding to structure information
- Linking information – chunking, labelling, breadcrumbs
- Design considerations and how to refine your navigation process
6. Organising your website
- Link paths – vertical, diagonal, lateral
- Different kinds of links and ten guidelines to make them effective
- Accessing Web information – related link paths, related link destinations, guidelines for effective links, creating advance organisers
- Making your site accessible – eleven features you can use
- Tips on search engine optimisation and page ranking
- Dos and Don’ts for screen appearance– fonts, colour, background, separators, tables and charts
- Ten point accessibility checklist
- Eight guidelines for globalisation
7. Editing and proofreading
- If your business is education, you really can’t afford to have errors on your website!
- A top-down approach to polishing the words and punctuation
- A word on effective transitions to keep readers engaged
- Eight point checklist to ensure your content has maximum impact
- How to avoid commonly-confused words and common punctuation and spelling errors
For details of timetabled courses, see the schedule.
To reserve your places you can book on-line, book a private course or call us on +44 (0)1235 60 30 22.
Plain Words Ltd
The Documentation &
tel +44 (0)1235 60 30 22
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