Gwen Davies

A website is the basis for a relationship

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In her excellent book Letting Go of the Words, Ginny Redish talks about a website as a relationship. You set up that relationship when you invite people to come and look at, read, or listen to what you have to offer. (Redish, Janice, Letting Go of the Words: Writing Web Content that Works (Interactive Technologies). Morgan Kaufman, Burlington, Massachusetts, 2007.)

Of course you need to gather and write down everything you want in your site. Next, you need to break all that information, step by step, into a dialogue.

You have two minutes, max, to show any person coming to your site why they should stay and pay attention. Think of it like this: you have had a chat with someone you wanted to see and you have gone your separate directions. Suddenly you remember what you wanted to say to them. Put in your website what you would shout to the person once they are half way down the block. Lucky for you, you have time to think that message through and get rid of the words you do not need.

Write what you want to say. Then pretend you are the person coming to the website. What do you want? Go back and forth. Jot notes, make a comic strip – set up a dialogue. The more you practice this, the better you will get at making it work. Hint: keep it simple.

If it is a dialogue, what does this person coming to your site want to know? What do they want to find? What action to they want to take? Picture the person standing there facing you. Imagine what each of you would say, and write that down.

Finally, remove the other person’s words and questions and write something that does two things: gives all the information from the dialogue, and makes sense.

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