Make it easy for readers to find and understand messages

Running a business is a complex challenge. Whatever the size of organisation, many processes need to run smoothly, while a number of statutory bodies require tax, accounting, health and safety and many more regulations to be observed.

How do you get your people to know this and recognise the importance of compliance?

Many organisations create manuals and intranets outlining important procedures, but do people read them?

Making information accessible is important if employees are to use materials in the course of their work. People need to know they can find the information they need fast.

Easy-to-use indexes and navigation

Readers will find a manual more useful if it is structured so that they can find what they need fast in contents or index pages or flick through the main body and see what they want in a heading.

An easy-to-navigate intranet or web site will also be more useful if viewers can find what they’re looking for fast.

Clear explanations

Once a reader has found the information they want, they have to be able to understand it. People tend to consult reference material when they don’t understand something and need an explanation. To provide what they want, manuals and web sites need to provide clear explanations without using jargon and without waffle.

If people can’t find what they’re looking for once or twice, they probably won’t bother trying a third time. And if they can’t understand explanations when they do find the right section, they’ll think the material is a waste of their time.

More importantly, if staff cannot understand important processes or regulations, what impact will it have on your business? Could it reduce productivity or, worse, prevent the business from meeting legal requirements?

Useful resources improve business

If you are going to the expense of creating reference material for employees, you’ll get the best value if they find it easy to use and it helps them do their jobs. It’ll also help maintain productivity and ensure your business meets any legal obligations.

Does your writing sell your products and services online?

So you have a web site and a blog, but why? What do they do for you?

Most businesses have a web site as a brochure to showcase their products, as a shop to sell their products or as the actual product itself (eg entertainment or other content).

Apart from personal web sites which could have any purpose, most business web sites are created to sell products or services. They can do this using hard sell or very softly, building relationships, which the blog approach is well suited to help.

The test of whether a business web site is successful is not how much traffic it attracts, how many page views or even how long a visitor spends on the site, but whether it leads a target group of potential customers to take a specific step to buy. This could be sending an email or making a phone call. These are the actions we aim to achieve, as we are selling services which we tailor to each specific client’s needs.

In the past weeks we have received such contact from potential clients precisely matching our target profile, which has led to meetings, quotations and ultimately, we hope, actual business.

What sells us to these clients? The words on our web sites. They persuade the client that we are credible and lead to that all important contact so that they approach us rather than thousands of other suppliers also promoting themselves online.

Taking the process forward, meeting, negotiating and quoting depend on our inter-personal skills, but without that initial contact we wouldn’t have these leads.

Preparing your web site so that it not only persuades potential customers to contact you, but ensures they are the customers you want to attract (and not time-wasters) is critical to selling products and services successfully online.

But you have to know what you are setting out to achieve before you start.

Managing long documents effectively

When commissioned to proofread magazines, newsletters, reports, manuals and web sites before they are sent to print or published on the internet, often we find major inconsistencies throughout the document, which require considerable rewriting or editing. Sometimes there isn’t enough time to do this and the document is produced with only the worst errors and typos corrected.

Anyone producing a long document can avoid this by assuming the role of editor and managing production from start to finish. By using style guides for both the visual and written content, you can ensure consistency through contributions from many writers, illustrators and designers. 

And because you’re monitoring progress all the time, you won’t be faced by the need to make impossible changes just before going to print or publication. 

It’ll save you time, money and hassle, and also result in a better publication.

Download our free prompt sheet on managing long documents effectively or if you want someone to edit your long document for you, call us on 0845 200 7830 or email us.

Telephone: 0333 0444 354