10 Content Experts to Follow on Twitter

So, you’ve learned how to write for the web, manage media files and navigate T4. Now you’ve got the keys to your shiny new responsive website, you probably want to start creating some great new content to populate it with. This is a good time to delve a little deeper into the world of content design.

If you know where to look, social media can be a treasure trove of resources for those who write and design for the web. Following experts on Twitter is a great place to start, so we’ve rounded up 10 great accounts to share with you:

As director of communications at Mail Chimp, Kate Kiefer Lee knows a thing or two about creating great content. She’s also co-author of one of our favourite books: Nicely Said, Writing for the Web with Style and Purpose.

Nicole Fenton is a digital strategist, editor and a teacher at The School of Visual Arts in New York City. She’s the other half of the Nicely Said team.

If you’re wondering how to make your website users happy, Gerry McGovern is sure to have some good advice. He’s been consulting, speaking and writing about web content since 1994, and is widely regarded as a leading authority on customer experience.

The CoSchedule team produces a tonne of great resources for content managers (we love their handy Headline Analyzer). Follow them on Twitter to receive free guides, articles and tips.

Writer and strategist Amy Thibodeau is a pro when it comes to crafting great user interfaces. Ever thought about the tone and clarity of your error messages? How about the wording on your website’s nav buttons? Check out Amy’s Twitter feed and blog for some thought-provoking discussion.

In her own words (and we certainly agree), Karen McGrane ‘makes the web more awesome’. She’s the author of Content Strategy for Mobile and Going Responsive, and co-host of the Responsive Web Design podcast.

Jeffrey Zeldman has been working on the web since 1995. His Twitter feed is a powerhouse of fascinating news and discussion. Aside from his own words of wisdom, Jeffrey shares articles from leading thinkers on the cutting edge of content strategy and web development.

Struggling to make sense of a complex navigation system? Unsure where new information should go? Abby Covert is an expert when it comes to Information Architecture, and author of the book How to Make Sense of Any Mess. Follow her Twitter feed and blog for tips on how to improve the clarity and usability of your site.

Hey Designer is a curated feed of resources for people who work on websites. From discussing the pros and cons of using icons instead of copy, to sharing top tips on writing words that SEO-bots will love – Hey Designer will populate your Twitter feed with an array of useful links.

Writer, educator and consultant Donna Lichaw pioneers smart, simple methods that drive user engagement. She is the author of The User’s Journey: Storymapping Products That People Love. Follow her for advice on how to design digital content that’ll speak to your audience.

Anyone we missed out? Let us know in the comments below.

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How to Improve your Website Images and Videos

Images and video are used as supporting content on the University’s websites.
People don’t tend to prioritize our websites specifically for images or videos – they visit for information; your content.

That said, content can be greatly enhanced by using images or video to support your messages if they are used in the right context. So what is the right way to use them?

Choosing an image/video

High Quality

Use only high quality images. Images should not be blurry, stretched or pixelated. There is a range of University photography you can use in the photo library. Always preview your image to check the quality before publishing.

Videos should be selected from an official University YouTube channel and embedded in your site. Don’t upload the original video file directly to your website.

Support the content

Images and videos are supporting messages. They should always make sense to the user, their job is to help to enhance the meaning of your page. Your content should provide the context for the image/video.

It’s important your images and video is relevant to the content on the page. User testing increasingly shows that people are feeling more and more negative towards the use of generic stock images.

Less is more

If you have too many images or videos on a page, you can compromise the effectiveness of your content. They can:

  • slow page load times
  • interrupt the reading experience
  • make pages disjointed and harder to read

Images of text and complex images, like flowcharts or graphs, can also present a barrier for users accessing your content, and should be avoided.

This content in the image is effectively invisible to users of screen readers and anyone viewing the text only version of your site, for example a mobile user with images turned off. It is also impossible for search engines to index this content – so if you want people to find this information, use content!

If you must include a complex image in your site then a text alternative of the essential information contained in the image is required.

Image size and orientation

For sites edited via Contribute the standard image size is 320 x 180 pixels. We recommend that you use landscape images. Specific templates may have alternative sized images for banners and grid layouts.

Sites edited in T4 have many image options. For these size requirements you can view the image guide on our demo site (University login required).

Keep an eye out for a future post on editing images.

As videos are embedded onto your webpage, your website template should automatically provide you with the right size and a preview image for the box. Just look at our support pages to find out how to embed a video (University login required).

Alt text

Alt text provides alternative, textual content when an image cannot be displayed or for users of screen readers. It should be descriptive, but not necessarily a literal description of the image. Think about describing what the image represents.

Linking images

Many of our websites contain pages with grids of images, for example the Open Day landing page. Linking the image used here increases the area a user can ‘click’ or ‘tap’.

This is useful for mobile users who may be trying to select links using their finger or a stylus. Image links should always be supported by links in the text of your page.

Social media

Individual posts and campaigns run on social media are ideal for hosting video content. These channels tend to be seen as more engaging for people, as they can so easily share content – but more importantly, they enable people to talk directly to us.

Consider using social media alongside your website in this way to help your messaging. Social media can help direct people to your website, and your website should connect people to your social media.

Find out more about using social media in this way from the University’s Social Media Team.

Final thoughts

So that’s your whistle stop tour of improving images and videos for your website. These assets should always be used to enhance your pages, to enable people to better engage with your content. Find out more from our guide to images (University login required).

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