Hot Text: Web Writing that Works Paperback – Jan 11 2002
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From Library Journal
There is no shortage of material on web site usability (see Computer Media, LJ 3/1/02). Hot Text shines in its comprehensive coverage of online writing. One will find information on XML and writing for database-driven sites; creating FAQs, blogs and newsletters, and online r sum s; and becoming a web writer or editor. Although it does not break any new ground, Back to the User is a solid summary of current thought on the "user-centered" approach, covering both writing and design. It largely focuses on business sites, with additional information on e-commerce and branding. Both titles are appropriate for public libraries. Shaping Web Usability, while more academic, also addresses specific issues such as designing for older adults and handheld devices. Recommended for larger public and academic institutions.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Hot Text examines good writing practices and discusses their application to and implementation on the web. -- Dr. Jean A. Pratt, Business Information Systems, Utah State University
Inspiring, authoritative, fun, and personalHot Text is an instant classic. -- Rich Coulombre, Principal, The Support Group, Needham, Massachusetts
This is the best web writing book around, with excellent coverage of history, theory, and application. -- Muriel Zimmerman, Coordinator, Programs in Technical Communication, University of California, Santa Barbara
Warm, informative, conversational, inspiring, and honest, this book gave me great ideas and models without feeling like a lecture. -- Colombe Leland, Web writer, newspaper editor, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Why is online writing so bad? Probably because books like this haven't been available until now. Buy it. Read it. -- Seth Godin, Author of Survival is Not Enough, Permission Marketing, and Unleashing the Idea Virus
Top Customer Reviews
This book examines the subject of writing for the web, and how it differs from writing for hard-copy media.
The book is divided into the following chapters:
Part 1 - Catch The Net Spirit - Who Am I Writing For, And Incidentally, Who Am I?; What Kind Of Thing Am I Creating?; What Will The Web Do To My Text?; Attention!
Part 2 - Write Like A Human Being - Idea #1: Shorten That Text; Idea #2 - Make Text Scannable; Idea #3: Cook Up Hot Links; Idea #4: Build Chunky Paragraphs; Idea #5 - Reduce Cognitive Burdens; Idea #6 - Write Menus That Mean Something
Part 3 - Fine-Tune Your Style For The Genres - Writing In A Genre; Creating Customer Assistance That Actually Helps; Persuading Niche Markets, Individuals, And The Press; Making News That Fits; Entertaining People Who Like To Read; Getting A Job
Part 4 - Become A Pro - So You Wannabe A Web Writer Or Editor
Part 5 - Backup - Writerly Sites; If You Like To Read
On the surface, you may think that writing is writing, regardless of the medium. You may think that if you can write a 2500 word article for a magazine, that you can successfully use that same style for web sites. And unfortunately, you'd be wrong. The mindset of online writing is completely different than for print, and this book will help you to understand that.
People read books and magazines for many reasons, but often it's to be entertained or to learn about a subject in depth. But when people visit web sites, it's usually to find an answer quickly. The reader wants to find the chunk of information they seek and then move on. If they don't see what they think they want, it's off to another site. The authors do an excellent job in this book breaking down the content structure of web writing.Read more ›
I do think, however, that the book is written in a style that is rather confusing and unappealing. I think this comes from the authors trying to be all things to all people.
But this book hits on topics that the lesser books such as Net Words fail to cover. In their zest to get to market and gain new clients, those authors write lots of puff and little meat.
Hot Text offers the meat. So if you only buy one book on online copywriting and usability, make it this one. It doesn't cover everything but it gives you the basic background and the knowledge to do a good job on creating a useful Web site.
This book is suited for beginners or more experienced people who write for the web or would like to. But it is better suited for those with very little experience or who want a reminder of what works and what doesn't.
Those with a lot of experience will quickly do a read-through and pick up a few good ideas and be done with it. But even that is worth the cost of the book.
I highly recommend this book to those people who need the information the most.
Susanna K. Hutcheson
Owner and Executive Copy Director
First, the advice on writing online text is on the mark, especially with respect to organizing your message and presenting it with impact. Much of the advice can also be effectively used in paper-based documents. I particularly liked the way the authors presented punctuation because in paper-based text a mark such as a colon is easy to spot, whereas on a monitor it's lost. I've since begun using a dash instead of a colon when developing online content and that small piece of advice works where a colon does not. Of course there are literally hundreds of other tips and advice that will combine to make your content readable and understandable.
Second, the way the authors show you how to organize your thoughts, distill them into a coherent and succinct message, and how to present that message is a strategy that anyone who develops online content needs to carefully read and heed.
Finally, this book covers much more than how to write - it also gives excellent advice on a full range of related topics, including search engine placement using meta tags, humanizing the technical nature of web pages (such as making URLs easy to read and remember for non-technical users), and how to structure your content to find items of interest. The latter extensively uses principles from Information Mapping©. One disappointment was the omission of any mention of Robert Horn, the inventor of Information Mapping©, from the extensive list of cited references and recommended reading because the authors' approach is closely aligned to much of Horn's work.
If you're developing online content you cannot afford to pass this book up. Mine is a constant deskside companion and is likely to remain so for years to come.
The book is at its best in the section aptly titled "Write Like a Human Being." Here, you'll find dozens of practical tips and techniques for Web copywriting. From "Shorten That Text" to "Write Menus That Mean Something," the Prices not only tell you how it's done, but demonstrate it in "before and after" samples. And each tip is evaluated in an "Audience Fit" grid that assesses how well it suits various types of site visitors. These five chapters alone (covering nearly 200 pages) are worth the price of the book.
Hot Text is much more than a style guide. Another 150 pages discuss how to write for the various genres found on the Web--help text, FAQs, marketing copy, PR and news releases, 'zines, e-mail newsletters and (yes) Weblogs.
Throughout, the book is extensively supported by a wealth of useful references (many of them available online) and pertinent callout quotations. And just when you think there couldn't be any more good stuff, you'll find helpful information on how to find a job as a Web copywriter.
I have two major quibbles with Hot Text. For a book that emphasizes clarity of expression, it begins on an odd foot. After a brief introduction to some general principles of Web-writing, it jumps into a discussion of object-oriented writing that is bewildering to novices. The normally crisp text slows to a snail's pace as they wax a little too theoretical. Don't get me wrong--this is important stuff, but it is the least successful part of the book.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
An excellent book that points out the differences between digital media and paper media. I especially learned a lot in Chapter 3 - What Will the Web Do to My Text? Read morePublished on April 24 2004 by A. J. Vasaris
I bought it and never regretted it.
It features a lot about web writing you won't find anywhere else.
Hot Text is a veritable gold mine of brilliant information for the web content professional. It is very comprehensive and full of practical tips and focused advice. Read morePublished on April 26 2002 by Gerry McGovern
Collaboratively written by webmaster experts Jonathan and Lisa Price, Hot Text: Web Writing That Works presents easy to understand style guidelines based on quantitative research... Read morePublished on April 11 2002 by Midwest Book Review
As the number of web sites with extensive textual content continues to contract, it is time for all content providers to reevaluate their creative policies. Read morePublished on March 17 2002 by Charles Ashbacher
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