Thursday, September 21, 2006

Stuck for things to write about?

Blogging and writing in general can (should) be fun, when you've got something to write about. Reading Dave Taylor's article about finding topics to blog about, the basic message is 'write what people want to read, not what you want to say'. Dave's good example is the photographer with a blog writing about 'why I'm a great photographer' - how boring would that be...?

Dave writes The Intuitive Life Business Blog and the extremely helpful tech support and business questions blog Ask Dave Taylor

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Case what's in a good one?

A good case study - you might ask 'Is there such a thing'? In my opinion yes, (here he goes again) if they're well written...

Case studies suffer from a bad reputation. They can be long, bloated documents, churned out to make up the numbers for some government funded project. They can be poorly structured, with logic or no flow of ideas in the language, appalling obscure section titles and leave the reader thinking, 'well, that taught me nothing I didn't already know'.

A frequent complaint I've heard is 'Well, no one reads our case studies anyway, so why bother...'. Yes, and there's a reason no one reads them - they're really really badly written, they may as well be written in Klingon!

When put together well, they can be informative insights into a business, a project, whatever the subject. In my humble opinion, empathy, logic and remembering who you're writing for are the key issues. The point of a case study is to describe someone else's experiences and communicate a message, eg 'This could be you'.

A case study can also be the only time when both the good and the bad things that happen are set out in writing. Case studies I have dealt with succeed when I know the intended audience is going to read something and imagine themselves in that position, because the content is written in language they understand, the 'story' has a logical flow and there's an overriding message running through the document. Write from the outside-in perspective, not the inside-out.

Friday, September 01, 2006

The Web Content (not so?) Accessible Guidelines 2.0

You wait 5 years for them to come along, and the WCAG, guidelines on making your Web site accessible, aren't that accessible themselves, at least in terms of language!

As pointed out by Trenton Moss of Webcredible:

"Another major criticism of the WCAG 1.0 guidelines was how difficult it is to find specific guidance and answers. It doesn't take too long to discover that the WCAG 2.0 guidelines quite clearly offer the same low level of usability.

Reasons for this poor usability include:

  • The level of jargon and complexity of language is truly phenomenal (as outlined above)
  • The text is littered with links making it very difficult to read"
And my favourite bit of Trenton's article:

"Ironically, there's even a definition provided for the word 'jargon'!"

The full article is linked in the post title above.