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Aug 16

How to Write for Web Pages - Part 10 - The Pagination of a Story

Posted by Bill Anderton

In the previous installment of this tutorial, I have written about the processes for developing a story for publication on the website. The story is written by one writer working as a solo writer-reporter or two or more people working as a collaborative team. The resulting work-product is a finished manuscript that is ready for publication.

Placing a story on a web page is a key part of the web publishing process but the story itself isn’t the sole content component on a web page. The story is only one component of a web page, albeit the most-significant component, but here are others too.

In this tutorial, I’m going to define the term “pagination” as the process of making a unit of content called “a web page” and the placement of all of the content components that makeup the page. Pagination is also about the synergy that results from the interworkings of the various components.

It will help writers-editors to know how their stories will work with the other elements of the page and other pages within the website.

In this installment of the tutorial, I will write about the components of the web page and how the pieces fit together.

The Corpus of the Story

The electronic manuscript that a writer-reporter submits to a webmaster for publication does not stand alone. The text of the story resides on a web page with lots of other content. The story may be the main focus of the page, but all of the components on the page work together synergistically with all of the other elements on the page.

The collection of content on your website is broader than only your story. Your story resides in the content ecosystem where the parts work together.

The corpus of the story is all of the text and its inherent internal formatting that makes up a story. The corpus of the story is usually the primary web page component that conveys information to the page’s reader.

The full corpus of the story consists of:

  • The main top-of-page headline
  • Any deck, if used
  • Various subheads
  • The body text
  • Any incidental pieces of text such as cut lines, footnotes, etc.

The corpus of the text might also include some limited formatting mechanisms that the writer-reporter places into the text:

  • Bold and italics fonts
  • Indenting
  • Bullet points
  • List numbering
  • Underlining

Writer-reporters should limit their formatting including in their manuscripts to the listed elements. Webmasters or web editors will convert your manuscripts into HTML coding, and any extensive formatting will have to be stripped out first. Over-formatting manuscripts will slow down the editorial processes.

Content Enrichment

The corpus of the text is not the sole component of the page, but it is a significant one and typically the most important. There are other important pieces of content that are placed on a web page too.

In addition to the corpus of your story, you or your webmaster can include other story-related content elements that may assist you telling your story. The additional content elements that you can use are optional. However, I recommend their use because they greatly enrich your story. Also, these types of rich content attract and hold the interest of web visitors more than straight text does.

Other content components placed with your story might be:

  • Photo and graphics
  • Links to other hypermedia
  • Objects that play media and the media to play

The writer-reporter assigned the story might also produce all or some these content types too, in addition to the corpus of the story. Alternatively, they might be produced by a photographer videographer working collaboratively with the writer-reporter.

A webmaster might opt to use public-domain sources for some of the items or to buy stock photography and video clips.

Page Navigation

Webmasters want visitors to visit the page on which your story resides and consume it completely, but they also want the visitor to visit other pages in the website too. They want visitors who land on you page to also find visit other pages in the church’s website too. Good user interface design practices are to make moving around within a website easy and quick.

The methods that are used to allow users to move around within websites are called “navigation aids” or just, in slang, “navigation.”

Navigation is all the URLs that link visitor to other content within the website. The website’s cascading stylesheet (CSS) define the presentation-layer style of the collection of links that comprise a navigation set. The style of navigation might be buttons, menus or simple links. When the users click one the links, they are taken to another page of the site based on the URL of the selected link.

Typically, webs pages have three navigation systems of decreasing importance:

  • Primary navigation – in most websites, the Primary Navigation typically is the main menu of buttons and drop-down menus across the page near its top. Primary navigation is the most important of the three navigation systems. Typically, the items in the navigation are  the same for each major subsections of the site.
  • Secondary navigation – in most webpages, the Secondary Navigation typically is the set of buttons arranged vertically in a sidebar on one side of the page. Typically, secondary navigation is used to move around within minor subsections of the site and change when the web visitor enters each minor subsection.
  • Tertiary navigation – in most websites, frequently-used links incidental to the main navigation objects but still used repetitively enough to warrant being easy to find on a page. Typically, tertiary navigation is located at the very top of the page and the very bottom of the page. Also, tertiary navigation is more subdued in its presentation. Typically the links are the same throughout the site.

The organization of all of the links, buttons and menus in the navigation is called taxonomy. Taxonomies provide some orderly classification and imply natural relationships or organizations of the links. Good taxonomies are intuitive and used without further instructions.

The words used in the links, buttons and menus will be carefully crafted also to be intuitive and obvious so visitors can find new and interesting things with minimum confusion.

Site Design

The webmaster will have designed a standard set of page styles to carry all of the content used in the website. The page styles used typically include:

  • One-column pages
  • Two-column pages with one narrow column for a sidebar and one wider main column
  • Three-column pages with narrow columns on each side of the page and the main center column that is wider than the sidebars

All of the pages in a website will use one of the three predefined page styles.

In most cases, websites employ some type of grid-based design that keeps internal and external margins consistent throughout the site.

Within the grid design, pages are further divided into page regions. Each page region has a predefined function for holding certain types of content.

For example, your webmaster’s standard web page for a story might be a two-column page with a masthead and the primary navigation across the top of the page with site headers. The sidebar column might contain the secondary navigation and other incidental information. The bottom of the page might contain the site footer and any tertiary navigation.

All of the elements on a page are an empty shell of a page waiting a story.

Pagination of Your Story

The wider main content column of the page will hold your story. The corpus of your story and any content enrichment will be added to this column.

At the top of the main column will be your main headline for your story (tagged as the <h1> headline) followed by your story’s lead and nut graf. If used, the optional deck for the story will be placed between the main headline and the lead.

In most web page designs, all of your story content listed in the preceding paragraph will be “above the fold” meaning that it will be visible without the user having to scroll down the page. In fact, the mission of this content is to get the visitor interested in the story so that they will scroll down the page to ready more and become involved in the story.

Below the fold, the remainder of your story will follow.

Synergy among Content

The totality of your story (the corpus of your story and all enrichments) will be the main content on the page and is the main information conveyed by the page. However, your story will be surrounded by other content components that will integrate your story with the rest of the website.

Your story on one page might be closely-related to other stories on other pages. If so, mechanisms such as secondary navigation and links embedded within each story will help visitors discover the other pages and entice them to click to view them.

If the primary navigation is good and its text enticing, it may cause the visitor to find totally unrelated content contained in the website. Such leaps of interest causes users to stay in the website longer.

Herein are examples of the synergy among the content of websites.

Stories support each other. All of your pages in a website form an ecology of content and provide opportunities for synergy among your pages. Visitor may come into the site looking for other stories but serendipitously discover your story and spend far more time reading it than what they originally can for when they originally landed into the website. Or, the converse could happen.

Website visitors have diverse interests; not always clearly defined when they arrive. Webmasters’ objectives are in retaining the attention of visitors in a long session wherein each visitor clicks on a lot of pages.

Wise webmasters will do everything possible to encourage and enhance synergy among their content. Writer-reports may be asked to make textual references and links to other pages in the website in order to help. Also, references and links to other content in the website might be added in the editorial process prior to publication.

Optimizing Content Begins With Writers-Reporters and Continues With Editors

Search engine optimization is a critical part of the pagination processes.

In addition to optimizing a story to increase synergy for moving visitors around within your website, it is very important to optimize opportunities for getting your content discover through search engines.

Search engines are instrumental for bringing high-quality visitors into your site not only to find a read something related to what they are searching for, but also to find other things serendipitously and unplanned. If so, they will stay in the website for a while.

Serendipitous discovery of pages not being intentionally searched is the rule rather than the exception. It used to be called “surfing the web.” Optimizing content to exploit this behavior involves the entire range of web actives that begin in the creation of the story:

  • How page titles are written and what words are used
  • How the main headlines and subhead are written, and words used
  • The words and formatting used in the corpus of the story
  • The links to other internal web pages as well as external pages and even the text shown in the anchor tag

Maximizing your opportunities continues through the editorial process too.

Your webmaster will add the metadata for the web page carrying your story. The metadata added to pages are important for the SEO process. The writer-editor can furnish the first draft of the metadata, or your webmaster may create it as a web page is coded using HTML.

Often, SEO is thought of as something performed after finishing the page; even something completed after long after publishing the page.

In the recent changes made by Google and other search engines that put a premium on quality content, SEO and the authoring-editorial process are almost impossible to segregate. Integrating SEO with authoring-editorial process provide attractive rewards and enhance results.

It is important that writers-reporters optimize content from the beginning, as the story gets written. Optimization in the beginning make the most of the opportunities for your content. Then, while editing the story, the optimization of content seamlessly continues.

Webmasters have a dual obligation. First, webmasters should empower writers-reporters to do SEO as they write. Second, webmasters must train writers-reporters about how to do high-quality optimization.

In an ideal world, writers-reporters working with webmasters should:

  • Optimize stories before publishing in both the writing phase, as well as the editorial phase.
  • Increase the visibility of the story in the search engines from the first time it is crawled and indexed. SEO should be added later, but immediately.
  • Self-train in the best practices of SEO and how search engines work.
  • Recognize opportunities for SEO as the story is written including desirable keywords.
  • Complete high-quality SEO before the story is published.
  • Embed analytics probes on all published pages so rich usage information gets harvested
  • Monitor the usage of published stories and any possible SEO errors after the story is indexed and any additional opportunities for tweaking SEO.

Integrating content creation directly with the SEO process will greatly increase the efficiency of the whole authoring and publishing process.

As a web organization, your whole team can coordinate the content-creation process so authoring; editorial and SEO is high quality; well written and well indexed.

Don’t Think Parochially Focused Only a Story

In the content creation process, it is very easy to focus only on the story being worked on; to be too limited in outlook or too narrow in scope. In the hurly-burly and pressure of creating content, it is very easy to think parochially about all of the issues and opportunities.

Be careful of limited thinking.

You have to think about the full context of the story, but how it plays with all of the other content on your site. You can think about how people will find it from within the site (for visitors already landed in the site) but also how people will find it from search engines and third-party referrals.

You have to think about the totality of your website’s content.

You also have to think about how your content works for people within your church, within your neighborhood, within your community and elsewhere.

You have to think globally.

There are almost unlimited opportunities for your website and its content. You should maintain your awareness of the whole situation and be prepared to take advantage of all appropriate opportunities for increasing traffic and building online relationships with your visitors.

Category: (08-14) August 2014   Tag:

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