This post is the second in a series of posts that I am writing to fulfill a course requirement in my webwriting class, so bear with me.

In this post, I turn my beady eyed attention to the first few chapters of Writing for the Web 3.0. Full disclosure: Last summer, I tagged the manuscript for this very book for layout, helped to proofread it (Hi Grace!), had a hand in creating files for the exercises, and verified the veracity of all the links in the text and on the CD (Hi Barbara!).

It’s pretty hard to read for content, then, without stopping to wonder for instance, “Did I italicize that word correctly?”

But I shall try to provide some intelligent reflection. Basically, Crawford Kilian‘s message is to try and make your website as informative and user-friendly as possible for the readers. If my classmates are anything to go by, people are impatient buggers. Kilian advises webwriters to not to give a user coming to your site any more than 100 words to deal with at a time, a technique he calls “chunking.” Faced with a wall-o-text, users will likely go elsewhere for their information. I am probably one of those rare people who dig for information if the subject is really interesting.

Did you click on the link? Neat huh? That’s another thing Kilian talks about, the three principles of webtext: orientation, information and action. basically, web users want to go to a site and find out as quickly as possible what’s on the site, what’s in it for them and what they should do with what you’re telling them. Going back to the link above, I committed a major web faux pas by not telling you where you were going and what you could expect to find.

Kilian also spends a bit of time discussing the similarities/differences between print and webtext, especially in terms of the navigation cues we need to find our way through the information. Books have tables of contents and indexes i.e. well established conventions, while websites have navigation bars, site maps and links – conventions for which are still being established. Being lost in a book and lost in a website are two different things. The Web makes babies of us all, so we’re probably not so willing to find our way out of a bad website.

In the spirit of linkery, I give you a website that is interesting but mildly challenging to navigate and featuring lots of long scrolling frames: AirlineMeals.net. It’s got airline meals from around the world, vintage photographs of airline meals, behind-the-scenes of airline catering pictures (holy hairnets, Batman), and a sprinkle of Hollywood Magic.

Thanks for reading.

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