Chapter 7: Conversations and Key Messages

Redish gives us seven guidelines for focusing on conversations and key messages:

Give people only what they need.” (126) Provide information based on identifying visitor personas. Then clarify the questions visitors ask. Write in a manner that answers those questions, without boring or alienating visitors.

Cut! Cut! Cut! And cut again! (126) Less is more, and keeping it simple is what visitors want. Identify what you want visitors to accomplish, and how they can do it in the most expedient manner. Cut all of the other fat from the information.

Think “bit, snack, meal.” (126) A bite is a headline or link, with only enough information to describe it. A snack is a “key message or brief summary” (135) that might be at the top of an article, a blog post or contained in a summary. It is a synopsis or “the first bit of information.” (135) A meal is all of the details, such as the article, report of detailed description that causes visitors to linger longer in order to read more.

Start with your key message. Visitors start at the top and move in an F pattern down through the information. Placing the key message at the top ensures that the greatest number of visitors will get the message. From there, visitors read less and less, as the information progresses. By writing in an inverted pyramid style, the most important information goes to the greatest number of readers. From there, information is provided in lessening levels of importance, mirroring the decreasing number of visitors reading the details.

Layer information. Providing information in layers “keeps site visitors from being overwhelmed,” and it “helps site visitors who want different levels of information.” (140) Layers are achieved through rollovers or secondary windows.

Break down walls of words. Similar to Cut! Cut! And cut again!, this means that visitors want to be presented with small chunks of information, rather than a huge wall of words. Smaller chunks enables fast and easy nagivation as well as encouraging conversations.

Plan to share and engage through social media. Social media is increasingly accomplished on smaller handheld devices. By keeping social media in mind, it reminds us to keep our message short and direct enough to support social media. No one wants to look at a small screen and attempt to navigate a huge amount of information. Visitors want their social media experience to reflect the typical space allowed for posting messages.




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