1.25.2009

Book Review: Writing for the Web 3.0


I started reading this book, Writing for the Web 3.0 by Crawford Kilian, on this past Monday when I took in my car for routine maintenance.

The car didn't successfully make it out in one piece from that dealership visit, but that's another story. On the other hand, this book proved to be an excellently written guide to help understand what makes web writing different than writing for other outlets, and how to get in the proper mind-set when approaching a web writing project.

I may have become fond of this book because it used many familiar phrases from my journalism courses in college: hook, chunks, headlines, subheads, blurbs, etc. But it explained clearly that it's best to not overwhelm the reader of web content, and to use various methods to draw their eyes to quickly scan things. As always, it's important to not distract the reader from their original intent in having come to your website in the first place. Rather, it's important to help guide them directly, and intuitively, to where they're headed.

The author understands how a writer thinks, and the pitfalls a writer can fall into when writing for the web. One of the funnier and relevant quotes in the book has now become one of my favorite quotes all around. The author, in the use of this quote, under the section titled "Corporate Writing Needs The You Attitude," was trying to describe how important it is to use a friendlier more approachable conversational tone in web writing than what companies usually use. Companies usually like to have a direct, one-way order: do this, and do it now! But that's not how a reader will be interested in receiving content. Therefore it's important to take the ego or agenda out of the message, and instead reach the user directly with the value proposition that they're looking for.

Without further ado, here's the quote:

The Canadian scholar Northrop Frye once distinguished between ego art and self art. Ego art sees everyone as a worshipful audience for the ego's own splendor; the only purpose of the audience is to admire the prefect, unchangeable, yet always insecure ego. Self art, by contrast, wants to provoke a response from other selves, to learn and change. The self, being secure, doesn't fear change--or a challenge.

All around a great writing-focused, smaller/convenient-sized manual for web content. One of my favorite reference booklets.


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