Brighton Road Baptist Church (BRBC) provides the facility to write articles for publication on its website and for comments to be made on some articles/blogs. When writing an article on behalf of BRBC or commenting on another persons submission always follow the guidelines below:
Content should be relevant to the functions and activities of BRBC. Unless you have been given permission to post articles and material directly onto the website all articles will be reviewed by the site editors before publication.
Follow the guidelines
(see below) for writing content to ensure consistency in presentation throughout the website.
Messages should NOT be malicious or designed to offend. In particular, the use of commonly recognised swear-words or profanity is not acceptable. You must ensure that you do not say or post anything which is harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, libellous, invasive of another's privacy, hateful, or racially, ethnically or otherwise offensive. Reference should not be made to the personality of other participants in a discussion nor should attacks be made on an individual's character.
Your message should be within the scope of the subject(s) under discussion, if they are not, they will be removed by the moderator. You should remember that you are legally responsible for what you post.
You must ensure that your contribution does not harm minors in any way; does not breach any applicable law or regulation; is not transmitted in breach of any applicable contractual or fiduciary duty (such as a duty to keep it confidential); does not infringe any patent, trademark, trade secret, copyright, database right or other similar right of any party.
BRBC reserves the right to remove any material at any time without notice or explanation.
If you have received a private email you may NOT post any of its content without the prior consent of the person who sent it.
You may report offensive posts or breaches of this Acceptable Use Policy by:
using the red flag on the comment, to report it to the moderator.
using the “Contact BRBC” form on the BRBC website.
These guidelines are nothing revolutionary nor are they difficult to put into practice, yet so much web content is structured so poorly that it’s to the detriment of the site. Web writing is totally different to writing for printed matter. We tend to scan content on the web hunting for the information we're after, rather than reading every word. As a result, here are some words of wisdom you should be sure to follow when writing copy for our website.
How much to write
The optimum number of words on a webpage is about 250-300, you can get away with more, but a lot more and it probably justifies splitting it up into pages based on some sub headings.
Use clear and simple language
Reading from computer screens is tiring for the eyes and about 25% slower than reading from printed matter. As such, the easier the style of writing the easier it is for site visitors to understand our message.
Some techniques for using clear and simple language include:
Avoid jargon - Get your grandmother and ten year old nephew to read your script - if both can understand the page content you've done well!
That includes “church” jargon and in-house names we use. We can use them but need to explain each one (e.g. Is it Inspire, Image or Ignite?).
Use shorter words where possible - ‘Begin’ rather than ‘commence’, ‘used to’ rather than ‘accustomed to’ etc.
Avoid complex sentence structures - Try to include just one idea or concept per sentence
Use active ahead of passive words - ‘We won the award’ is shorter and easier to understand than, ‘The award was won by us’.
Where possible write in the first person rather than the third person.
Limit each paragraph to one idea
If you assign just one idea to each paragraph site visitors can:
Easily scan through each paragraph
Get the general gist of what the paragraph is about
Then move on to the next paragraph
They can do this without fear that they'll be skipping over important information, because they will already know roughly what the paragraph is about.
Limiting each paragraph to just one idea is especially effective.
Front-loading content means putting the conclusion first, followed by the what, how, where, when and why. The first line of each paragraph should contain the conclusion for that paragraph, so site visitors can:
Quickly scan through the opening sentence
Instantly understand what the paragraph is about
Decide if they want to read the rest of the paragraph or not
Because each paragraph contains just one idea, users can read safe in the knowledge that if they jump to the next paragraph they won't be missing any points.
Front-loading also applies to web pages as a whole, as well as paragraphs. The opening paragraph on every page should always contain the conclusion of that page. This way, site visitors can instantly gain an understanding of what the page is about and decide whether they want to read the page or not.
It is just the opposite of the story-format. On each page there is an introduction, middle and conclusion, in that order. Unfortunately, when scanning through web content we don't tend to read all the text nor read all the way to the bottom of the screen. As such, you may easily miss the conclusion if it's left until the end.
So remember, conclusion first, everything else second! For a great example of front-loaded content, just read any newspaper article. The opening paragraph is always the conclusion of the article.
Use of Images
Images can help to add interest to a page but:
Only use images where you either own the copyright or have received explicit permission to use.
Never ever just download images from the Internet. There are salutary stories of companies downloading and using images from the internet and then being taken to court for breach of copyright.
Only use images of sufficient quality.
Only use images that are relevant to the page you are writing.
If the image contains a person or people who can be identified then it is best to obtain their permission. Particular rules apply to photographs of children.
Avoid mixing photographic quality and ‘cartoon’ images.
Use descriptive sub-headings
Breaking up text with descriptive sub-headings allows site visitors to easily see what each section of the page is about. The main heading on the page provides a brief overall view of what the page is about, and the opening paragraph gives a brief conclusion of the page (because you've front-loaded the page content). Within the page though, there are various sub-themes which can be quickly put across with sub-headings.
There's no hard and fast rule for how frequently to use sub-headings, but you should probably be roughly aiming for one sub-heading every two to four paragraphs. More importantly the sub-headings should group on-page content into logical groups. These allow site visitors to easily access the information that they're after.
Lists are generally preferable to long paragraphs because they are:
easier to scan
usually more succinct
These guidelines are nothing revolutionary nor are they difficult to put into practice, yet so much web content is structured so poorly that it’s to the detriment of the site. Notice this last sentence was where we started. You do not actually need to repeat the key message or conclusion at the end, that’s just part of the message here.