Letting Go of the Words — Ginny Redish

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Letting Go of the Words“Writing web content that works” is the subtitle of this book, and it delivers a thorough treatment of the topic. I don’t think it contains any radical new ideas, but it is a nicely organised compilation of what some people call “best practices” about writing and layout for the web.

Of course, you can’t possibly summarise an entire book with a list of bullet points, but here are the ideas in the book that struck me as being especially useful.

  • Write information, not documents.
  • Don’t make people think. (Thanks, Steve Krug.)
  • Remember that some people will print out pages.
  • Cut! Cut! Cut! And cut again! It’s been said for a long time by many writers that people don’t read on the web. The less you write, the more likely you’ll be read.
  • Keep active space in your content. Active space is white space that separates content, as opposed to the passive space in page margins and so on.

Badly drawn manI have only one quibble with this book. There are a lot of little talking head cartoons, meant to represent web users saying things like, “How do I check my order on your site?” To me, these are so badly drawn that they are intensely annoying: the brunette woman’s lips make her look as if she has a moustache; the man with the cap looks like a bearded woman; the bald man looks like a bald woman with a moustache.

But enough nitpicking. There’s a heap of useful information in this book. Definitely worth keeping and referring to again and again.

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