Organization -- Notice how this section is broken into a sort of modified outline, by use of indents, bullets and the like? You can tell which are the main points, which are the subpoints, and so forth. I also try to keep each lesson linear, rather than have you jumping all over the place. When you do click on a separate link it opens in a separate window so you'll always find your way back to the main flow of information.
Brevity -- It's important to manage your text in short, readable chunks. I try not to write paragraphs as long as this one, in part because it's hard to read solid paragraphs on the screen, and also because ideas should always be broken down into their component parts... But as I said before, an online course can break a few rules. For example, my Web pages run longer than a commercial site's would, because I know my students want to print them out for later reference and it's easier to hit "Print" for a single long page, than to do it three times for three shorter pages.
Templates -- As you've noticed, each page of each lecture has a certain similar look and style. This makes it easier for you to get the hang of it. It also serves as a kind of branding technique. Just as editors appreciate the predictability of a standard release format, people browsing your Web site take comfort from standard layouts made possible by your use of a single template for similar pages.
Emphasis -- I use a limited repertoire of emphasis techniques... a certain size and color for the main points of a lesson, a smaller size but with bold color for the main points of a section, and then occasional boldface to hammer key concepts. But I try not to clutter paragraphs with too many typefaces -- see how klutzy this paragraph has become?
There are many other considerations for Web writing contained in the text, and whole books have been written full of useful advice. Our work is focused on writing rather than design. But it's important to remember that it's all about communication -- whatever it takes to get the message across -- and every aspect of communication is important.
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