I have to admit I write like a print journalist. I have been able at times to write like a broadcast journalist. But I have not mastered writing like a Web journalist, mainly because I've not seen enough information to guide me on my craft.
Now I have the guide. The Web usability guru Jakob Nielsen, in his latest Alertbox column, has outlined the techniques. He's given a very good example of something that doesn't work from nytimes.com as a way to guide us on what works.
Essentially his message boils down to:
- Non linear instead of linear.
- Reader-driven instead of author-driven.
- Ruthless pursuit of actionable content instead of storytelling.
- Comprehensive data instead of anecdotal evidence.
- Fragments instead of sentences.
Nielsen cites examples of how to frame sentences for the best Web audience acceptance, and his column is hugely helpful.
Nielsen isn't snobbish about linear, author-driven writing. He just thinks the deep learning concept belongs in books and in print, and that the Web isn't optimal for that experience. In conventional media, the experience is created for you; in digital, you create the experience.