The difference between web writing and plain English courses

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The difference between web writing and plain English courses 2017-05-19T08:20:24+00:00

There is overlap between the plain English and web writing courses, for 3 main reasons:

  • Plain English is a fundamental part of web writing.
  • Many ‘web writing’ techniques, such as making content easy to scan, also apply to writing for print.
  • It’s 2016—all corporate content is going to end up on an intranet, or network drive, and frequently be accessed on screen.

The table below is not exhaustive, but explains the key differences.

Topic Plain English/corporate writing focus Web writing
Plain English Word choice, including redundancies, verbose phrases, jargon, etc.

nominalisations

Yes (more in-depth) Yes
Commonly confused words Yes No
Sentence structure, including active vs passive voice, structuring sentences to avoid ambiguity,

short-term memory and sentence comprehension

Yes (more detail spent on sentence structures and grammar) Yes
Common grammatical mistakes Yes No
Page structure, identifying your audience and their primary needs, the curse of knowledge, and how to avoid it, removing unnecessary content Yes Yes
Scannable content Bulleted lists; parallel structure;

tables; writing good headings, lists and links; inverted pyramid structure

Yes (excludes links) Yes
Information architecture Yes (document focus) Yes (web focus)
Persuasive writing The difference between ‘push’ and ‘pull’ content, writing to establish trust, cognitive biases and how to use them to influence reader behaviour and inspire action, when to use promotional writing Yes (focus on promotional or instructional content depending on organisation needs) (focus on promotional or instructional content depending on organisation needs)
Accessibility—writing for people with disability What you need to do to comply with the Disability Discrimination Act, including working with tables, images, audio and video Yes (document focus) Yes (web focus, including technical—HTML, etc.)
User experience Writing for different devices (tablet, mobile, etc.) No Yes
Cognitive ease and positive writing Yes Yes
Using images to support your content Maybe (Depending on organisation needs) Yes
Form design: Writing questions, help text and error messages No Yes
Search engine optimisation Search behaviour and algorithms, keywords, metadata No Yes
Technical Technologies behind web content, building pages in the content management system No Optional (General techniques, or organisation specific, by agreement)
Writing process Editing and proofreading techniques (Including overview of house style) Yes (Organisation to provide style guide, or we can use Commonwealth or Queensland Government style guides) Yes (Based on Qld Government web style guide)
Managing and influencing stakeholders and subject matter experts Yes Yes
Specific writing styles (e.g. social media, work instructions, media releases, surveys) Optional (By agreement; organisation to provide examples) Optional (By agreement; organisation to provide examples)