Monday, February 19, 2007

Online communications basics

For years our good friend Tom Murphy has been writing about the abuse of Flash, and still, we see otherwise smart companies using flash on their introductory page. Why? How does flash help someone looking for information on your site?

Try to look at it from your customer’s point of view. What they want is a site that downloads quickly, is easy to navigate, and easy to read. That means a prominently placed navigation bar and large font. Perhaps we went overboard with minimalist design at Presto Vivace, but it has the merit of being clear.

Try to avoid PDF. There are circumstances, such as long documents, where using PDF makes sense. Most of the time search engine friendly HTML is your best choice.

When writing for the web remember that large font and white space are your friends. This is a world of short attention-spans, so short, punchy paragraphs are what you should present. It may be useful to link to larger, more detailed documents, especially for investor relations or GSA catalog information, but the initial presentation should be succinct.

Avoid nonspecific jargon and buzzwords. Leading provider of advanced technology solutions to the government and military, or similarly vague sounding phrases don’t tell the reader anything. Try to be specific. It is far easier for the reader to go from the specific to the general rather than the reverse.

Make sure your contact information is current. Recently I have been working on a project that has involved looking at numerous corporate websites. I am stunned by the number whose contact information is not current. It is also helpful to be specific in contact information, compare:

LittleEngineThatCould Systems Integration


LittleEngineThatCould Systems Integration
Sales -
Technical Support -
CEO Dr. Ed Entrepreneur,

It is much easier to make in inquiry if you know who you are addressing, rather than send a note to “sales.”

Dee Rambeau and Chris Bechtel wrote the best piece on online newsrooms I have ever seen. I can’t add anything to what they said, save to emphasize the obvious. Contact information needs to appear on every release and releases should be posted in HTML, not PDF.

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