I love reading your posts and hope you can help. I was asked to teach a "digital media writing" course at a university. Basically, it is about writing for web pages. There are lots of ways to do this, I know, but I wanted your opinion. It can't be all theory but it can't be all tech. learning. How can I get the flavor of good and varied kinds of web writing across to 18-21 year olds who may or may not go into this field. There needs to be some kind of output like a web page done for each student. I am trying to avoid the "same old" mentality. Ideas? Thanks!
that's a hard one - web writing will be very different if you're writing a how-to manual or the likes, but other than that, i don't know if i'd easily be able to classify a style that would be more "web-esque"...certainly the style of writing that will appeal to the younger generation will vary greatly from what appeals to older generations, but that would hold true outside of the web as well...
writing non-creative content for the web takes more from the web model itself, and it's important to compartmentalize your writing at that point to help keep it focused to the section that you're writing for (and then use links to keep the user moving around - less dead ends and single diatribes, i guess)...
what type of web writing are you focusing on? technical or creative?
The only writing I've ever taken was the required courses in college. What I remember seems to apply to all writing. Opening paragraph outlining what you're going to discuss, supporting paragraphs for each item, and a closing paragraph reviewing what you've discussed. Obviously simplified for some things, but I've found that even creative wrting follows the basic outline.
And web sites are pretty similar. Any good communication is. I think a home page should have a brief overview of the company or the topic or the story, or whatever the site is, etc. If it says we sell cars, it should mention vaired models, and there should be a models link, and if you can customize a car online it should mention that and have a link.
Linked pages should be written to stand alone since they'll be printed out and may have been arrived at via a search engine. So, althogh the visitor may have clicked a link stating "we have 30 cars" the linked page still needs to begin with "we have 30 cars." It sholdn't begin with "and they are..."
Other links are more "administrative" to me and need not be discussed in the home page and should be desinged to look administrative. Search, contact us, etc.
There's really no need for a "summary" review type page on a web site since it's not linear like writing. Maybe the review is more like the spam you get later.
I'm not a writer by any means. But a fan of good communication design.