Writing to the World Wide
January 27th Recap:
Language Use and the Web
As we've talked about so far, the effectiveness of any website depends on how well the webwriters and
designers match the information the site conveys with the values of the audience(s) that they're
trying to reach. The way they convey these values is reflected in language use, graphics, and hypertext
and interface cues and conventions. We begin by examining language use. Language conventions
refer to words and phrases, grammatical constructions that convey a specific voice or character. For
When reading anything on the Web (or in print too, for that matter) pay attention to what it is about
the writing style that appeals to you. For example, we looked at the
CarTalk website the other day. Think of the use of rhetorical questions, of words that convey humor,
of phrases that require a specific understanding or cultural immersion. All are meant to convey a
casual, entertaining voice that matches the tone of the CarTalk radio show.
- By using the second person and imperatives (such as "We hope youenjoy the show," or "Start clicking!) you convey immediacy by directly addressing the reader.
- By using contractions or unusual words or colloquialisms, (such as "Whaddaya Think?" or
"How 'bout that?") you convey a casualness that reflects
the way language is used in a specific community of Web readers.
- By making references to people, things, places, etc. (such as Ralph Nader) that only a specific group of people will
understand, you again convey a specific sort of knowledge that your readers value and appreciate.
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