Susannah’s blog about writing and websites

Please don’t centre your text

Centred text is hard to read. I think many website developers centre text because it makes it easier for the website to work on different devices. When you increase or reduce the size of the screen, centred text stays roughly in the same place, in the middle. The page looks tidy, but if your words […]

How to ensure people read your emails

Have you had to repeat yourself in emails because people didn’t read what you wrote first time? I recently wrote the following email to the people who manage my block of flats, thinking I had included all the information they needed: Subject: New fob for garage Dear Team My fob for the garage is working […]

Headlines that entice

Why do people fall for clickbait? Unlike writers of clickbait – those sensational headlines that don’t deliver what they promise – we try to write honest headlines. But we can learn from those who don’t. If you sit back and observe your own behaviour, you get a pretty good idea why some headlines attract your […]

Meaningless messages aren’t just annoying

Following my blog post about instructions that don’t work, now I’m worried by meaningless messages. A couple of weeks ago I received an email from Google – you know, the people trying to take over our online world – saying “New Index coverage issue detected” for my website. It went on, “This means that Index […]

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 […]