New Kid on the Block Web
I can confidently say that writing is one of my favorite things to do. Personal journaling, school papers, thank-you notes, and social media captions- I love it all. I’ve recently entered the world of writing online, however, and it has proven to be a genre much different from the others. I am new to this digital world, and while I am excited to try something new, I am also unsure of how to write effectively. With online writing, there is little room for long paragraphs embellished with imagery and metaphors. It is concise, clear, and meaningful. Due to its busy medium, online writing must stand out to be noticed. Lynda Felder’s Writing for the Web and Brian Carroll’s Writing & Editing for Digital Media are books that have proven to be very helpful in learning how to be successful writing online, and these resources will be beneficial as I start my multimedia project.
From Journals to the Internet
According to chapter three of Carroll’s book, online writing and editing is especially important because the Web is a distracting and visually busy medium. “Interactors” are consistently bombarded with links, advertisements, photos, and more. Online writing needs to be well written and well edited, especially since, unlike print writing, writers can post their work without a professional editor looking it over multiple times. Web pages are almost always skimmed, so features such as headlines, subheadings and links are important. The key is to build visual structure. Carroll also makes the point that readers often make an “F” pattern on webpages with their eyes, meaning that they look at the heading, the links on the left side, and the middle. Everything else can potentially be lost if it is not simple yet eye-catching.
For my personal multimedia project, this is something I will really need to pay attention to. I love creative writing, but the Web is not necessarily the place for that. At least, not what I am using it for right now. I need to make sure I make interesting and clear headings and section off my writing appropriately.
Tricks of the Trade
Luckily, Carroll and Felder offer tips for how to make my online page interesting and worth reading. In chapter 4, Carroll suggests “layering” my webpage with hyperlinks (but they need to pop up on a new tab in the same browser), interactive maps, photos, a menu and multimedia features. Felder echoes the importance of this in chapter two of her book, and points out that all writing should be simple and conversational. Writing with a conversational tone locks in the reader quicker than a formal tone. A tip Felder gives for cutting down an online piece that is potentially too long is to write all that I initially want to, and then to cut the word count in half. I tend to write far more than I need to on any subject, so this will be especially helpful for me.
A section I find interesting from Carroll’s book is the section in chapter three on freelance online writing. I could really see myself going into a profession in which I write in print or on the Web. Carroll makes the point that the best way to do succeed in the freelance world is to write very, very well. No matter what I major in or what opportunities I have taken advantage of, if I can not master clear, concise, and interesting writing, I will not be able to do well in this field. I am looking forward to using all that I learn to enhance my multimedia project and hone in on my online writing skills for the future.