Georgina has more than fifteen years' experience writing and editing for web, print and voice. With a background in marketing and a passion for words, the time Georgina spent with companies like Sausage Software and sitepoint.com cemented her lasting interest in the media, persuasion, and communications culture.

Georgina's articles

  1. UX Challenge: How to Make More Readable Lists

    The bigger a site or service gets, the more support requests it usually has. And the longer its list of online help articles becomes.

    Whether they’re simple FAQs or more instructional how-tos, once the list is long enough, you’ll usually want to break those items up into groups for easier navigation.

    So far, so good. But what happens when those groups start getting longer, and you need to group the items each contains? In practice, you won’t always want to split groups into subgroups with headings. Here’s a case in point:

    Read an email
    Create an email
    Use spell-check
    Include emoticons
    Use formatting, fonts and colours
    Change the text direction
    Add files as attachments
    Add images
    Add images inline
    Add an email signature
    Save a draft email
    Send an email
    Reply to an email
    Forward an email
    Get a read receipt
    

    We’ve been told for years that menus aren’t meant to have more than seven items, but web users are expected to use long lists all the time — in search results, in forms, and on ordinary content site web pages.

    justinlist

    discovermorelist

    wikilist

    Faced with this problem recently — along with the challenge of ordering a lot of help articles, I decided to do some research into whether there might be better or worse ways to order long lists of help articles.

    What’s the problem?

    The list above may seem logical to you. Indeed, that was the whole idea. That’s the procedural list order I used in the test. The list starts with composing an email, then steps through all the things you might do as you compose that email, and finishes with the things you’d probably do after that, like sending and forwarding.

    The order is pretty rough — you could argue that the Reply to an email article should come before the one on composing email — but you get the idea. In terms of “precision” ordering, this is about as good as it gets for most content managers.

  2. The 3 Second Copy Test: If You Wouldn’t Say it, Then Don’t Write it

    Does your content “resonate” with users? Does it empathise? If your help articles, system emails, or website copy are lacking the spark of true engagement, your language choice could well be to blame. So, here’s a 3 second way to test your copy. Getting personal In my experience, the best way to address users through […]

  3. Does Bad Grammar Make Bad UX?

    Ever since we started creating graphical user interfaces, we’ve been trying to make them friendlier and more usable. Sometimes those two goals coincide; sometimes they don’t. When space is at a premium, and you need to minimise ambiguity, the most direct approach is often best — which is why the button in this interface says […]

  4. Putting Web Standards for Writers Into Practice

    If you’re wondering how web standards for writers play out in practice, you’d better read this post. Recently I took a look at the website of my country’s leading telco, to see how they handled the standards I pointed out recently for web writers. The company’s name is Telstra, and it maintains the basic landline […]

  5. Sparkicons: Can We Make Better Links?

    Around this time last year, Mark Boulton proposed a new way of communicating information about linked content online He called his idea sparkicons, building on Edward Tufte’s description of sparklines, and pointed to some examples on large content-rich, link-heavy sites: Wikipedia and the BBC. He also created some examples of his own. Mark Boulton: I’m defining […]

  6. Writers and Wireframes

    “Do you have wireframes?” I asked a client this question not so long ago, and the answer surprised me. “Not yet, he said, “but they’re not far away. In the meantime, here are the sections of content we need written, so if you can get started, that’d be great. We’re on tight timeframes here!” The […]

  7. Web Standards for Writers

    Remember the bad old days of all those “writing for the web” articles? Now, people writing for the web don’t just have other writers to rely on for advice—they have real, live standards to follow! Hooray! Here, I’ve pulled together some of those standards, and explained why they’re useful, and for what kinds of web […]

  8. How to Make Your Video Reach More People

    Marketers love online video. But few realize how a simple transcript can help their cause. Last week I won over a marketer who wanted to present her swanky, shiny, high-end company video on its own—without a transcript—using three little words: “Expand your audience.” From a brand perspective, she argued, she wanted the words to be […]

  9. 3 Ways to Show, Not Tell, with Text

    Showing people your product, rather than telling them about it, is a great way to engage potential users or customers. Last week we looked at some of the ways we can use rich media to do that. But today I wanted to look at how we can show people your product using text. Why use […]

  10. How to Show Your Product, Rather than Tell It

    “Show, don’t tell!” This, one of the more popular catch-cries of web marketers, is often used to justify the application of gratuitous multimedia to landing pages. The web sure does make it easy to show stuff through video and animation, and it’s true that well-placed, carefully used multimedia can do much to help communicate complex […]