Susannah’s blog about writing and websites

My recent emails about writing and websites

On this page you can find links to my recent occasional emails, sent out by Mailchimp, and a few titbits from earlier emails. They refer to tips from my blog and recommended books, articles and videos – anything to do with writing, websites and the internet.   Dear website, please tell me … April 2021 […]

Dear website, please tell me …

A surprising number of websites withhold information from users that would make them so much easier to use. And a website that’s easy to use is surely what helps rather than hinders a business. The most obvious information that websites tend to withhold is price, particularly when they’re offering services. I’ve been guilty of this […]

Is revamping your website like building an airport?

Not exactly, but what they have in common is that most building projects take longer and cost more than originally thought. It doesn’t have to be an extreme case, such as the new Berlin airport – nine years late and billions of Euros over budget – but even quite small website projects usually take longer […]

Why communicating in writing is so hard

How would you feel if you were asked to bake a cake using one spoon, a bowl and no measuring scales? Writing isn’t quite as difficult as that, but it’s worth remembering that when you write you are working with just words, less than 10% of the tools of normal communication. You can’t see your […]

Civil servants need writing training

Whatever your views on Michael Gove’s Ditchley lecture last weekend, the bit that pleased me was his inclusion of writing training in the list of measures needed by the civil service. Mr Gove, the minister responsible for the civil service and previously responsible for education, said: “We know already from evidence of what works in […]

Tenses matter in times of life and death

Confusion for me this morning on reading a newspaper headline about the coronavirus: “China coronavirus cases might have been four times official figure”, according to a study in Hong Kong. What? Are they saying that the Chinese have saved thousands of lives by some kind of intervention we haven’t heard about? That doesn’t seem to […]

Web writing tips for the lockdown

Writing tips seem trivial when we’re in a worldwide pandemic. However, as many of us can’t work in the usual way, the lockdown does give us an opportunity to do some virtual gardening. So here are three tips for tidying up your website: 1. Cut the verbiage a. Take a figurative pruning knife to your […]

Beware a tangle of negatives

I came across this notice on a client’s web hosting site: “You have no renewals due that are not set to auto renew” Did you understand it straightaway? I had to think hard, but at least I was prepared for something like it because I was checking to see when the client’s web services were […]

When information hinders rather than helps

Helpful information is presented in the order that suits the reader, not the writer. Too often, however, writers present information in the order that suits them. The obvious examples are where the writers are worried that they may be legally challenged and put the information of least use to the reader first. Have a look […]

Writing short bits is hard

“Rugby Union World Cup pull-out”, the Evening Standard poster said a few days ago. Oh no, I thought, which team has pulled out before the World Cup has even started? An easy mistake to make, and not much of a problem. I had several seconds to think again and realise that the “pull-out” was part […]