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by Webnme on Sep 5th 2011

Web Content

Frequency of Publication Key

A critical factor in the success of any site is STRONG, FREQUENTLY UPDATED CONTENT!!  This is the single most important factor in success.  Content has to be updated daily for a site to take off and succeed.  It may take months of work to build a following and it may seem at times that it is a lot of work for little return, but that is how it works.  You have to churn out new content constantly or the site will be seen as moribund.

Tips about Web Publication

Web publication is nothing like story writing or prose writing, the things near and dear to most of us.  Instead it is very much like newspaper writing and works best with short paragraphs where all the really important information is front-loaded at the top and less important information is lower on the page.

People are very lazy on the web.  They will read only a few seconds on page before going to something else.  So pages need to be short.  If visitors have to scroll too much, they tend to think the content is too much work, stop and go somewhere else.

Bullets work for many things because it increases reader scan speed.

Links need to be clear and unambiguous.  Generally it is best if you link a word or phrase than to add it as a parenthetical.  People understand blue underlined words as links.

Avoid using underlining for emphasis.  Underlining on the web is for links.  Underlining for emphasis confuses your visitors and may lead them to believe a link was intended and your page is broken.

On the web you’ll find that html uses only one space between a period and the next sentence instead of the two spaces common for print media.  This is okay and acceptable.

You should avoid justified text.  Stretched words will slow your readers down and make your text harder to scan.

Plan to have some white space on your pages.  People need the white space breaks to understand paragraphs and take your content in bite-sizes.  A page without whitespace completely filled with text is an invitation to leave your site and go somewhere else where it is easier to read the content.

If you have a long article that you want to publish, break it into readable chunks and publish it as multiple pages just like in a magazine.  People will turn the page by clicking to continue to the next page.  This has the advantage of presenting your top level ads on each page of an article.

Publishing Format

Simple is best.  If you use WordPress, you can type your text and paragraph separations and let WordPress handle the rest.

If you do want to tinker with format in your article, please be aware that the formats used most frequently for written documents are not necessarily the best for the web.  Serif fonts that work in print media are less clear on a computer monitor.  Plan to use Sans Serif Fonts.  You may want to use Verdana, if you can as it was designed to look crisp on a computer monitor or cell phone screen.

Aside from the visible format of your document there is the underlying code that tells the computer how to display the text and pictures.   If you prepare your content in Word for Windows or some other Office type program and then copy it to a web page or into WordPress, the underlying code gets copied too.  This results in pages that load more slowly and in some cases may cause the page to display incorrectly.  It is better to compose your content in either notepad or in the WordPress editor, if you use WordPress.   If you are developing static pages, you’ll want to use a program designed to generate html without unnecessary code.

Content Management

Stale content is a sea-anchor that can drag you down.  Content should be fresh and useful to the extent possible.  Every so often an effort has to be made on a site to pare away non-productive or stale content.  Also as time passes the organization of content may no longer be appropriate and may need to change to better highlight your more successful areas to draw more visitors.

Intellectual Property

The key words are “protect” and “respect”.   You want to protect your own works and to respect the rights of others to their works.

If you are using a trademark, you need to make sure that it includes a TM mark to make it clear that you have a registered trademark.  Similarly, if you have a service mark, you need to use an SM with that mark.

To help people understand that you claim the copyright to your work, it is a best practice to include a copyright notice on the bottom of each page of your site.  This helps those unfamiliar with copyright law to understand that you are not offering up your content as stuff that everyone is free to copy wherever they please.  Legally, what you publish is presumed to be copyrighted to you, unless you explicitly state otherwise; but this legend will help avoid misunderstandings with visitors not schooled in the rules.

When you publish, you should only publish content that you have created or for which you have written permission to use from the owner of the copyright to that material.  Similarly, you should avoid misuse of trademarks of others and acknowledge trademarks with a TM in text.  Following these simple practices can help you avoid infringement claims or a take-down notice under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

Finally, you may want to do searches on key phrases in your content from time to time to see whether other web sites are using your material without permission and thereby drawing traffic that ought to be going to your site.  If you do find other web sites infringing on your rights you may want to consult with your attorney about potential legal remedies or at the least send a note to the offending site asking them to remove the content.

About Webnme

The developer's first experience with computers was with Fortran IV. Wow that's ancient. After graduate school, he taught history for a number of years at a community college before attending law school and becoming an attorney. In 1997 he changed careers to become a web developer/designer with an interest in all things web related. He currently maintains several dozen websites including a family of websites for a non-profit corporation that gets over five million page views monthly. This is his developer website. The opinions expressed are his own.

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