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Letting Go of the Words, 2nd Edition

Book Description

Web site design and development continues to become more sophisticated. An important part of this maturity originates with well-laid-out and well-written content. Ginny Redish is a world-renowned expert on information design and how to produce clear writing in plain language for the web. All of the invaluable information that she shared in the first edition is included with numerous new examples. New information on content strategy for web sites, search engine optimization (SEO), and social media make this once again the only book you need to own to optimize your writing for the web.



  • New material on content strategy, search engine optimization, and social media
  • Lots of new and updated examples
  • More emphasis on new hardware like tablets, iPads, and iPhones

Table of Contents

  1. Cover image
  2. Title page
  3. Table of Contents
  4. Praise for Letting Go of the Words
  5. Copyright
  6. Dedication
  7. Foreword
  8. Acknowledgments
  9. Introducing Letting Go of the Words
  10. 1. Content! Content! Content!
    1. People come for the content
    2. Content = conversation
    3. Web = phone, not file cabinet
    4. Online, people skim and scan
    5. People do read online – sometimes
    6. People don’t read more because …
    7. Writing well = having successful conversations
    8. Three case studies
    9. Summarizing Chapter 1
  11. 2. Planning
    1. Why? Know what you want to achieve
    2. Who? What’s the conversation?
    3. Breathing life into your data with personas
    4. Breathing life into your data with scenarios
    5. Summarizing Chapter 2
  12. Interlude 1. Content Strategy
    1. Why is content strategy so important?
    2. What is content strategy?
    3. What does content strategy cover?
    4. Who does content strategy?
    5. Seven steps to carry out a content strategy
  13. 3. Designing for Easy Use
    1. Who should read this chapter – and why?
    2. Integrate content and design from the beginning
    3. Build in flexibility for universal usability
    4. Color
    5. Space
    6. Typography
    7. Putting it all together: A case study
    8. Summarizing Chapter 3
  14. 4. Starting Well
    1. Home pages – content-rich with few words
    2. 1 Be findable through search engines
    3. 2 Identify the site
    4. 3 Set the site’s tone and personality
    5. 4 Help people get a sense of what the site is all about
    6. 5 Continue the conversation quickly
    7. 6 Send each person on the right way
    8. Summarizing Chapter 4
  15. 5. Getting There
    1. 1 Site visitors hunt first
    2. 2 People don’t want to read while hunting
    3. 3 A pathway page is like a table of contents
    4. 4 Sometimes, short descriptions help
    5. 5 Three clicks is a myth
    6. 6 Many people choose the first option
    7. Summarizing Chapter 5
  16. 6. Breaking up and Organizing Content
    1. 1 Think “information,” not “document”
    2. 2 Divide your content thoughtfully
    3. 3 Consider how much to put on one web page
    4. 4 Use PDFs sparingly and only for good reasons
    5. Summarizing Chapter 6
  17. 7. Focusing on Conversations and Key Messages
    1. Seven guidelines for focusing on conversations and key messages
    2. 1 Give people only what they need
    3. 2 Cut! Cut! Cut! And cut Again!
    4. 3 Think “bite, snack, meal”
    5. 4 Start with your key message
    6. 5 Layer information
    7. 6 Break down walls of words
    8. 7 Plan to share and engage through social media
    9. Summarizing Chapter 7
  18. Interlude 2. Finding Marketing Moments
    1. Marketing on the web is different: Pull not push
    2. Join the site visitor’s conversation
    3. Find the right marketing moments
    4. Don’t miss good marketing moments
    5. Never stop the conversation
  19. 8. Announcing Your Topic with a Clear Headline
    1. Seven guidelines for headlines that work well
    2. 1 Use your site visitors’ words
    3. 2 Be clear instead of cute
    4. 3 Think about your global audience
    5. 4 Try for a medium length (about eight words)
    6. 5 Use a statement, question, or call to action
    7. 6 Combine labels (nouns) with more information
    8. 7 Add a short description if people need it
    9. Summarizing Chapter 8
  20. 9. Including Useful Headings
    1. Good headings help readers in many ways
    2. Thinking about headings also helps authors
    3. Eleven guidelines for writing useful headings
    4. 1 Don’t slap headings into old content
    5. 2 Start by outlining
    6. 3 Choose a good heading style: Questions, statements, verb phrases
    7. 4 Use nouns and noun phrases sparingly
    8. 5 Put your site visitors’ wordsin the headings
    9. 6 Exploit the power of parallelism
    10. 7 Use only a few levels of headings
    11. 8 Distinguish headings from text
    12. 9 Make each level of heading clear
    13. 10 Help people jump to content within a web page
    14. 11 Evaluate! Read the headings
    15. Summarizing Chapter 9
  21. Interlude 3. The New Life of Press Releases
    1. The old life of press releases
    2. The new life of press releases
    3. How do people use press releases on the web?
    4. What should we do?
    5. Does it make a difference?
  22. 10. Tuning up Your Sentences
    1. Ten Guidelines for Tuning up Your Sentences
    2. 1 Talk to your site visitors – Use “you”
    3. 2 Use “I” and “we”
    4. 3 Write in the active voice (most of the time)
    5. 4 Write short, simple sentences
    6. 5 Cut unnecessary words
    7. 6 Give extra information its own place
    8. 7 Keep paragraphs short
    9. 8 Start with the context
    10. 9 Put the action in the verb
    11. 10 Use your site visitors’ words
    12. Summarizing Chapter 10
  23. 11. Using Lists and Tables
    1. Six guidelines for useful lists
    2. 1 Use bulleted lists for items or options
    3. 2 Match bullets to your site’s personality
    4. 3 Use numbered lists for instructions
    5. 4 Keep most lists short
    6. 5 Try to start list items the same way
    7. 6 Format lists well
    8. Lists and tables: What’s the difference?
    9. Six guidelines for useful tables
    10. 1 Use tables for a set of “if, then” sentences
    11. 2 Use tables to compare numbers
    12. 3 Think tables = answers to questions
    13. 4 Think carefully about the first column
    14. 5 Keep tables simple
    15. 6 Format tables well
    16. Summarizing Chapter 11
  24. Interlude 4. Legal Information Can Be Clear
    1. Accurate, sufficient, clear – You can have all three
    2. Avoid archaic legal language
    3. Avoid technical jargon
    4. Use site visitors’ words in headings
    5. Follow the rest of this book, too
  25. 12. Writing Meaningful Links
    1. Seven guidelines for writing meaningful links
    2. 1 Don’t make new program or product names links by themselves
    3. 2 Think ahead: Launch and land on the same name
    4. 3 For actions, start with a verb
    5. 4 Make the link meaningful – Not Click here or just More
    6. 5 Don’t embed links (for most content)
    7. 6 Make bullets with links active, too
    8. 7 Make unvisited and visited links obvious
    9. Summarizing Chapter 12
  26. 13. Using Illustrations Effectively
    1. Five purposes that illustrations can serve
    2. Seven guidelines for using illustrations effectively
    3. 1 Don’t make people wonder what or why
    4. 2 Choose an appropriate size
    5. 3 Show diversity
    6. 4 Don’t make content look like ads
    7. 5 Don’t annoy people with blinking, rolling, waving, or wandering text or pictures
    8. 6 Use animation only where it helps
    9. 7 Make illustrations accessible
    10. Summarizing Chapter 13
  27. 14. Getting from Draft to Final
    1. Read, edit, revise, proofread your own work
    2. Share drafts with colleagues
    3. Walk your personas through their conversations
    4. Let editors help you
    5. Negotiate successful reviews (and edits)
    6. Summarizing Chapter 14
  28. Interlude 5. Creating an Organic Style Guide
    1. Use a style guide for consistency
    2. Use a style guide to remind people
    3. Don’t reinvent
    4. Appoint an owner
    5. Get management support
    6. Make it easy to create, to find, and to use
  29. 15. Test! Test! Test!
    1. Why do usability testing?
    2. What’s needed for usability testing
    3. What’s not needed for usability testing
    4. How do we do a usability test?
    5. What variations might we consider?
    6. Why not just do focus groups?
    7. A final point: Test the content!!
  30. For More Information – A Bibliography
  31. Subject Index
  32. Index of Web Sites Shown as Examples
  33. About Ginny Redish