Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Web and Blog Publishing Tips

I'm often astounded that Writers' Circles and even some publishers and e-zines often have pretty awful websites and blogs. So do some authors.

I'll be writing some guidelines soon (it's the day job, I'm not a know-all) but key pointers are:

Fonts and Text
  • Use a web friendly font, such as Verdana, Arial or Trebuchet.
  • Times New Roman looks old-fashioned and unprofessional.
  • 'Fancy' fonts may not be recognised if visitors don't have that font installed on their PCs/laptops
  • Fancy fonts, particularly italicised or handwriting styles are hard to read. People won't bother.
  • Grey text is OK - if you're a designer - but it's hard to read. Surely you want your content to be accessible to everyone? Then keep it clean - black on a white or pale background is best; dark colours on a white or pale background is OK. Coloured text on a coloured background hurts, though white on black is favoured by some dyslexics.
  • Reading web content is very different to reading printed material. People scan web pages, seeking out headings, sub-headings, bulleted lists and keywords. If your page or blog is one long block of text, your visitors' eyes and concentration will tire quickly, so break it up.
  • A joy of the web is that it is, or should be accessible to people with blindness and visual impairments (as well as other disabilities). Think about the font size you use. Think about the colours (see above) and colour-contrast.
  • As writers, you are likely to attract visually impaired people who may be using screen-reading software such as JAWS or Browsealoud. So make sure your text is readable; avoid writing in italics, don't use ampersands and use plenty of subheaders on web pages - the software will read these out first before reading your text.
  • Keep web pages short. Use short, punchy sentences. (I'm not talking about when you post your writing or poetry, but about information pages concerning you or your writing group, and maybe the services and benefits offered by your group).
  • Use plain English
I'll be back with more soon...
Lily Childs is a writer of horror, esoteric, mystery and chilling fiction.

If you see her dancing outside in a thunder storm - don't try to bring her in. She's safe.