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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Slowing Down Skimmers

In response to 7 Deadly Sins of Social Media: Slowing Down Skimmers . Here's a few helpful style guides to attract skimmers. Although it is impossible to please everybody, And there is always a flip-side to every suggestion. Here are a few of mine. Please note that in Composition Writing 101 I flunked; Reading and Comprehension I scored 98!

It must be visually appealing to look at- “Oh no, it’s three pages long!” Keep it short and simple.
[I have a two-minute attention span!]

Each blog post or chapter should have one overall focus or objective. Every post should have an opening, a body, and a closing [basic English 101; also ingrained into salespeople].

A paragraph should convey only ONE idea at a time. I like one that starts with a headline OR bold first line, phrase, or word. Each paragraph MUST logically connect OR lead into the next one. A sentence MUST be readable aloud in one breath, unless separated by a punctuation for emphasis. In fact, have someone read it to you out loud and see if YOU understand everything! Best someone who has no idea what the subject is.  Added Nov 23 Useful Rules

Unless it is a non-formal form of communication [e-mail, text message] where characters and time spent typing is at a premium, use precise wording. Don’t use smileys, emoticons, or other forms of short-hand. Avoid highly technical words. Use Spell Check and Dictionary Look-up for ANY word more than seven letters long. Readers stop mid-sentence to check a dubious spelling or context of a word. Do it enough times and they will doubt the content of the whole post!
“I stopped blogging because people always criticized my grammar.”
see 24 Things You Might Be Saying Wrong

Striking out words can be fun, if used sparingly. Personal anecdotes should be in italics, inserted words, in brackets or parentheses, for emphasis. Do not go off topic. If you have to, put in italics “see [subject, location] like the anecdotes. But keep the main idea rolling! Don’t post something that will be misconstrued as an endorsement, unless that IS the idea you are pushing. Bulleted items or lists help to move the eyes along. Avoid graphics as breaks. One photo is enough per post. And NO animated graphics…so tacky!
In all cases, don’t overdo it! It will become monotonous!

Side bars are nice, if not overdone to be a distraction. It keeps gadgets handy. Too long a post leaves a lot of empty space.

To summarize, think of it as fishing. Lure them in with a shiny format. Bait them with a single tasty concept [your goal in mind]. Tug at them a few times using your ideas. Reel them in with your closing statement.

We're about to revamp a nonprofit's website, so I appreciated seeing this today via BlogAid. Consider watching the original video (linked in this note). Even somebody who is 26 prefers larger fonts (14 pt or 16 pt) and other design elements to improve readability on websites.
Rodney Rivera I like the concept of "one site, one goal." Color, placement of what I call 'hooks', seeing the point right away, all of these are important to catch those 'just looking.' True for pages as well as in-store. I really miss GeoCities where templates or codes are not necessary to make a personal page. There was a 'Web Pages That Suck' that was a great tool like this one promises to be. That one went commercial. Font size I don't see as being important in this age of zoom control. What IS important is proportions. Does the sponsor ad at the side-bar 'yell' louder than the real content? You want to catch 'just looking' skimmers. Not be tacky or boring.
6 Surefire Ways To Piss Off Facebook Fans- This may also apply to blogs.
re 10 Things I Learned in 2010 About the Pitfalls of Blogging

Being a non-commercial blogger, a few points don't apply to me. But 1-3 is certainly true. Being interesting, posting regularly [every Wednesday for example] insures that when you DO have something important to say, they'll be there to read... it.

Don't alienate your readers with ads not related to you. I posted once that a writer is as interesting as the width of their column...the rest is somebody elses garbage, or worse blank [half way down the article].

Don't lose touch with your friends, family, and your own health...texting and bio-rythm doesn't count.

The Language of Social Media | Social Media Today
Rodney Rivera The second point is a great morale booster! I like “Keep it short and sweet” and “don’t take it too seriously.” Also “For the best results, keep it honest and authentic.”
What I like about this article is that it is short and to the point. It states its sources at the end instead of links not needed in the body. Also, unlike some journalists, it doesn’t just copy and paste whole paragraphs from those sources.        6/4/2011 a Saturday

WagnerWrites                                                                     7/21/2011, a Thursday
Want to look at some great website designs? Clean, colorful, and optimized for social media. These are nonprofits but the same principles apply to anyone. Let me know your favorite.
11 Nonprofit Websites Designed for the Social Web 
#1 is a simple whole page banner to draw you in, without 'other news' along the edges or bottom. What I do not like are when the big picture slideshows into an ad...tacky. If I didn't click the hyperlink, I wouldn't have known it was a slideshow.

I hate web pages that distract you from the Message.
Sidebars that take up 1/3 of the page width total is my biggest problem. Followed by a Like or 'invite' pop-up before I have a chance to read anything.
Mysteries...more follow...

Web Pages That Suck on Google search [their page sucks because it doesn't show nuthin']

Page one, screen one should be simple and eycatching in itself. Without ads, pretty slideshows, list of sponsors, and flashing animations in smaller squares. Yes you should have your photo at the top, but keep your bio 'down below.' This page should be no bigger than one sheet of paper if printed out, landscape or portrait.

Following pages can be 'anything goes' within reason.
Mystery meat refers to anything invisible until you move the cursor over it OR doesn't really say what it is about (i.e., an icon).
A page should be no more than 'four clicks down' when scrolling  [that's what I hate about FB. There is no 'back to top' button].
Grammar and spelling IS important! Nothing distracts more than a dubious word I am tempted to look up.

This not about slowing down skimmers. It is about keeping everyones attention (and awake). Thanks to Lori Randall Stradtman and Claire Wagner for showing me how it should be done; and James Jimbo Denny on how it shouldn't. Humor helps :-)

I HATE when FB allows only 420 characters in the status space. There is SOMETHING about that number that seems significant. What follows is a disclaimer of sorts...
Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data, ability to repeat discredited memes, and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Also, be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor even implied. Any irrelevancies you can mention will also be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.
- I like this quote, now that I've seen it a second time. I don't remember where the first time was

1 comment:

  1. Good advice. Some things I hadn't thought of before. I also went back to look at some of my older blogs and was aghast to see that I had no subsections. Now I try to remember to break them up with bolded lines. But I'm too lazy to fix everything. Anyway, I'll try to take some of your advice in the future, too.