Tag Archives: usability

Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox causes web editor to tut

Jakob, Jakob, Jakob. You either love him or hate him. The guidance on his popular website that is – not the actual guy himself.

Why is reading the regular Alertbox email as confusing as trying to follow the number of contestants that took part in the quarter finals of this year’s BBC Masterchef (did no-one else notice that 200 people – approx – made it to the quarter finals?).

For example, today’s Alertbox newsletter talks about company names in microcontent.

Apparently, it’s not good to start titles or links with your company name. If these are shown in a list, they can be hard to differentiate and be repetitive. The idea is that a user only reads the first few words of a link before they decide whether to move on. Repeat the same words in each link and they may get annoyed.

Okay, it’s not great to start links with the same phrase each time, but we’d be AMAZED if a press office DIDN’T start an opening title with the name of the company. It looks naff in a list, but it’s a sad fact a press officer is highly likely to change the title of a press release for the sake of it looking nice in a list of recent press releases on a media centre homepage.

A solution might be to add multiple titles for pages depending on where they’re presented, but this is a dream. If web editors spent time fecking around with multiple page titles, they’d probably go out of business or have their staff budget cut because they’ve time to feck around with multiple page titles.

It’s an ideal world suggestion but in reality this kind of detail rarely lives beyond a consultant’s summary of recommendations.

How to create a content matrix – advice

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A good content matrix can make all the difference when launching a website. Given that delays in content production is often cited as one of the most common reasons a launch date slips, it can even have a positive effect on your career. As in not being sacked.

A content matrix, usually an Excel spreadsheet, ensures the smooth running of the content production or migration process.

The matrix is managed by a content editor, producer or project manager and aims to track all elements of the content development process, page by page.

Used in conjunction with sitemaps and wireframes (preferably ones which have been signed off) , the matrix includes elements such as a page’s title, description and purpose, production status, related links and micro-content like metadata and alt text.

It should also detail who will be providing the content, the content source, who owns the content, any sign off processes, language or format information and, most importantly, all deadlines for delivery.

If you detail all of the above, you should have a clear critical path of content delivery and launch the site on time.

Keep web copy short? Tell that to my client

Nice post from the goodcontent blog which points out that the vast majority of web editors are trained in keeping their text tight and to a bare minimum. So advice from Jakob Nielsen is pretty much useless – when you have a client or marketing manager who wants (gnnnugh!) ‘welcome text’.

Read ‘Yes Mr Nielsen, right you are…’ in full.