Writing Plainly

March 2011 | Links updated, August 2012PDF versionHard writing makes easy reading.                      ~~An old adage.Plain language writing is reader-focused writing. But what makes something plain language?The Center for Plain Language defines “plain” in terms of people’s behavior. Can the audience for the material quickly and easily:find what they needunderstand what they findact appropriately on that understanding? (1)In 1998, … [Read more...]

Helping Readers Skim and Scan

August 2011Most people don't read through the content we put on our websites. They skim and scan the pages, "taking in headings, the beginnings of paragraphs, and first words of sentences." (1)  They're looking for something that strikes their attention or matches the question or need they have.  If they find it, they dig in and read more carefully.To help our web visitors find what they're looking for, we can create webpages that are easy to scan. … [Read more...]

Putting Your Essential Message First

August 2011 Help web visitors get the point of each of your webpages fast: Load the opening paragraph with the essential message of the page. The web is action-packed, and people are in a hurry. Eye-tracking studies have shown that users pay the most attention to the content they see first---which would be our opening paragraphs. Use the inverted pyramid approach Suggestions for long pages Use the Inverted Pyramid Approach This style … [Read more...]

How People Read on the Web

August 2011 | Links updated, August 2012Understanding how people read on the web and search for information can directly influence how we design our webpages and websites. One of the most influential researchers into web reading behavior has been Jakob Nielsen, who sums up his findings like this:How Users Read on the Web They don't. (1)The truth is, people are going to skim and scan all the lovely content you've written, looking for something (a … [Read more...]

Chunking Your Content

August 2011 Chunking your web content into small paragraphs helps your web visitors scan for the information they're looking for. Well-written paragraphs on the web: have only 1 main point start with that main point are less than 100 words long Why Small Chunks of Info Suit Web Readers Web visitors don't really read much of what's on a webpage---not much more than 20% on average (1). They also skip straight over large blocks of text … [Read more...]

Crafting Headings and Subheadings

August 2011 According to the Web Style Content Guide (1), "On the Web, you live or die by your headings... A good one makes it easier for readers to find your article, and much more likely that they will read what you have written. A  bad heading ensures that few, if any, readers will find your text at all, and that those who do will be unlikely to read further." (2)O--kay. Sounds important, even critical. Let's get down to it, then:Elements of a … [Read more...]

Toolkit for the OSEP TA&D Network on How to Evaluate Dissemination

by Richard Sawyer, Ph.D. April 2012Toolkit in PDFNICHCY is very pleased to share this toolkit on evaluating dissemination with our colleagues in the TA & D Network.The printed version of the toolkit has handy tabs that let you turn easily to its key sections, but that's not possible online, is it? So we've divided the toolkit online into its sections, listed below in the Table of Contents. Each section will open in a new window.First, though, … [Read more...]

An Approach to Evaluating Dissemination

This is Section 2 of the Evaluation Toolkit for the TA & D Network, as adapted for the web. Read about the toolkit. Your project can use a fairly straightforward approach to evaluating its dissemination efforts. That approach will likely involve three elements: Formative evaluation | Identify your target audiences' needs for information and resources, which in turn can help you develop new or revise existing dissemination strategies … [Read more...]

Formative Evaluation

This is Section 3 of the Evaluation Toolkit for the TA & D Network.  Read about the toolkit. Formative evaluation can help you develop, design, and make improvements to your dissemination efforts. You might, for example, want to make changes or updates to products or materials on specific special education and disability topics; or create new materials; or even find out how you could make some improvements to the current ways you send out … [Read more...]

Data Collection Methods

This is Section 6 of the Evaluation Toolkit for the TA & D Network. Read about the toolkit. A number of different data collection methods can be used with formative, process, and summative evaluation approaches. This section starts with brief descriptions of two typical methods. Record keeping with databases Website analytics Three additional data collection methods will be addressed in stand-alone, separate webpages because of … [Read more...]

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