Susannah’s blog about writing and websites

When instructions don’t work

Web writers are constantly telling people what to do. It’s their job to write instructions to help users to find what they want on websites. So why don’t web writers give more thought to the words they use? A colleague recently struggled with the instructions on a pot of paint. Yes, it seems we do […]

What is a contact form for?

With all the fuss surrounding Facebook and the security of our data, it’s worth looking at a small part of the story – the contact form. Why is it there ? Many websites have contact forms just because they can, or rather because the person who made the site wants to show what he or […]

Good business requires human contact

Why do we tend to trade with our neighbours rather than people on the other side of the world? This question was asked in a recent documentary about trade on BBC Radio 4. The answer seems obvious: it’s more expensive to carry goods a long distance than a short one. Yet that argument has been […]

Can an adjective be dangerous?

Almost certainly yes, when it comes to matters of life and death. Following the Grenfell Tower fire, building regulations have come under scrutiny, especially where they deal with combustible materials. Until recently, materials were described as combustible or non-combustible, according to the Fire Protection Association’s managing director, Jonathan O’Neill. In other words, they either burned […]

Take Ed Sheeran’s advice

Write as much as you can and keep writing. You’ll get better. In his interview on the BBC’s Desert Island Discs, Ed Sheeran was talking about songs, but the advice applies to any kind of writing. Too many people think they’re not writers. When faced with a report or an important letter to produce, they […]

Reduce choice to increase revenue

How have charities increased donations made through their websites? Well, most made a start by putting a donate button on the home page and encouraging people to give by telling them what would be done with the money. But many have gone further and adopted a simple technique to make it easier for people to […]

Why consistency is vital on a website

I recently got lost on the website of a big company. Nothing new in that, you may say, but the irony is that this company hosts one of my websites. I was trying to do some work on the database behind the website, and the website that was supposed to take me there was so […]

What a difference “editorial” can make!

Of the three types of work that go to make a website – editorial, design and coding – editorial must come first. I would say that, wouldn’t I? But here’s a case study to show what I mean: A small charity website had grown rather haphazardly. No-one had had much time to think about it […]

How to give feedback on someone else’s writing

Helpful criticism is one of the best ways of improving someone’s writing, but how to be critical without offending? The answer for some is not to give feedback at all, which is a lost opportunity for the writer. We all tend to feel that our writing represents us and are easily wounded by someone taking […]