Hot Text: Web Writing That Works - Book Review - WebReference Update - 020214 | WebReference

Hot Text: Web Writing That Works - Book Review - WebReference Update - 020214

((((((((((((((((( WEBREFERENCE UPDATE NEWSLETTER ))))))))))))))))) February 14, 2002

___________________________ Sponsors ________________________________ This newsletter sponsored by: Dokoni 802.11 Planet Spring 2002 _____________________________________________________________________

This week we review "Hot Text" a new book on Web writing from New Riders. Learn how to heat up your text to "push through" the cold computer screen. In other news yours truly makes The New York Times, and CmdrTaco proposes on Slashdot, and she says yes. *- link to us today *- newsletter home

New this week on and the Web:

1. BOOK REVIEW: Hot Text: Web Writing That Works 2. OTHER VOICES: * Olympic Accessibility Story Continues * Olympics Site Not Medal-Worthy 3. NET NEWS: * Online Proposal at Slashdot

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 1. BOOK REVIEW: Hot Text: Web Writing That Works

Want to learn how to write for the Web? Read this book. Hot Text shows how to grab your audience's attention and never let it go. Based on extensive research, the book is a fun yet in-depth how-to guide for effective writing on the Web.

Every place you use text on the Web is thoroughly explored. From headlines to links to menu design you'll learn how to make your text stand out from the crowd. In addition to conventional writing wisdom like using the active voice and one idea per paragraph the authors urge readers to adopt an object-based approach to writing for the Web.

Object-based text invites reuse. With each object answering one question, personalization and repurposing become easier. Your writing will also improve. Having an object model is like a DTD for your prose. Extraneous fluff falls away naturally.

Writing for the Web is different. Computers are cold, so warm up your text to "push through" the screen. Develop an attitude. Write in a genre. Go gonzo. Pull a Rageboy. Be outrageous. Oh, and make sure you spellcheck that last post on your blog.

The authors are both professional writers and it shows. Sentences flow seamlessly from one idea to the next. Hot Text is so good it could be used as a textbook for "Writing for the Web" classes.

So cut out that marketing blather. Halve your text, then halve it again. Cut out those adverbs and adjectives. Re-invert that pyramid. Get to the point. Write tight. Write right. Go gonzo!

There are other Web writing books, but none as erudite or entertaining. It was a real pleasure to read such a well-written book. Highly recommended.

Hot Text: Web Writing That Works By Jonathan and Lisa Price New Riders, $40 ISBN: 0-7357-1151-8

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 2. OTHER VOICES: Olympic Accessibility Story Continues, Olympics Site Not Medal-Worthy * Olympic Accessibility Story Continues

Shirley Kaiser and I are quoted in a story today in the New York Times by Pamela LiCalzi O'Connell. "Site Unseen?" explores the accessibility debate over the web site that Shirley first reported and yours truly followed up in this newsletter. Here's an excerpt from today's New York Times story:

..."The Salt Lake Cite site was designed by MSNBC. 'Being accessible has been a priority with us,' said Perkins Miller, Internet director for the organizing committee for the Salt Lake City games. 'There is useful link text throughout the site.'

But Andrew B. King, founder of, said that although the Olympic site had become more accessible, users with browsers that do not support JavaScript still cannot experience its full content. He said he had run the site through Bobby (, an automated service that checks sites for accessibility to people with disabilities, and it reported a few problems. 'So I would say it is not fully accessible,' Mr. King said, adding, 'Ideally, accessibility should be integrated into the design process, not the final step.'"

ALT text alone does not make for an accessible site. Encouragingly soon after our reviews of the site, the site changed for the better. Most recently an alternative page appeared in the <NOSCRIPT>...</NOSCRIPT> element for browsers without JavaScript, directing users to a stripped down text-only news page. Ironically the page has blue underlined links.

Clicking on the first link "Germans sweep women's singles luge once again" brings up a blank page, as the page relies on JavaScript to display. Go figure. The other news stories from MSNBC work fine.

Redirects, black links, heavy use of JavaScript and frames remain. Now, if we could only straighten out those ice skating judges.

UPDATE Feb. 15, 2002: Shirley Kaiser has found more accessibility problems with the Olympic Web site. The text-only page does not provide access to the Olympics site, just stories from MSNBC. Handhelds, screen readers, and now AOL 7.0, which disables JavaScript by default, still can't access vital information within the site.

Accessibility for All?

Site Review: 2002 Olympics New York Times, Feb. 14, 2002 (Circuits, page D3)

* Olympics Site Not Medal-Worthy

Jakob Nielsen held a media luncheon in San Francisco earlier this week to promote his new book, "Homepage Usability." He said the Olympic Web site met 66% of his usability guidelines. "That's not a total disaster," Nielsen said. All the site needs, he thinks, is a complete redesign.,1282,50332,00.html, Feb. 11, 2002

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 3. NET NEWS: Online Proposal at Slashdot

* Online Proposal at Slashdot

In the hopelessly romantic department, Rob Malda, founder of Slashdot, proposed this morning to his sweetheart Kathleen Fent, on the front page of Slashdot. A few minutes later, Kathleen said yes. Congratulations to the happy couple., Feb. 14, 2002

Happy Valentine's Day! See you next time.

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