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Is Your Content Usable?

Written by Darice de Cuba on November 3, 2010

This week instead of listing noteworthy entries I have decided to write about content, specifically different kind of contents. While browsing through the 9rules feed I noticed that there are a lot of linked content or the title seems very interesting and I will visit the site to read it only to find out it’s a pod- or videocast.

The Problem

My beef with a lot of websites is that they always provided text content but then will start doing pod- or videocast more and more. Till today I haven’t come across a website that also provided a write up or a transcript alongside the pod- or videocast.

The Idea of Good Content

I’m not against videocasts all the times, they can be way more better then text when it’s about demonstrating things, like; a food weblog that shows how to cut a pineapple, a tech weblog that shows how the newest Amazon Kindle turns on and how you can “change” pages.

I don’t see any added value when a weblogger will sit in front of the camera/microphone and talk about their opinion on a given topic. You can give your website more value by writing down a good post that gives users the possibility to read at their own speed, click on the links supporting the entry and with photos for more visual effect. Users can quote you if they write about your entry on their own weblog, they can add it to Instapaper1 to read at another time, etc.

Most important of all: People on the internet don’t read, they scan the text. That’s why it’s important to keep sentences short and to make good use of paragraphs and headers.

Much of our Web use is motivated by the desire to save time. As a result, Web users tend to act like sharks: They have to keep moving, or they’ll die. We just don’t have the time to read anymore than necessary.2

When you post a videocast about a topic you could have also written about you are giving your visitors no options at all but to sit still and watch and listen for minutes on. My bet is that most will browse away from your website.

Usability

Text is available to everyone, even to blind people as they have a special browser. The non-English speaking visitor can use Google translate to understand your entry. But when providing a videocast only, what about the hearing impaired? There are a lot more of them than you might think. When you provide a video- or podcast without any subtitles, transcript or write up you have made your content unusable to a lot of people. The non-English speaking visitor won’t be able to translate what you are saying. By the way, search engines love text more than video and audio files.

A Couple of Tips

If you are going to provide a video or podcast do mention it in the title. If you like creating an entry just to link to another website, mention it in the title. Maybe do a little write up why you are recommending the website. If you can, do create another feed for the linking entries only.

Bottom line is: Give your users the choice on how they will use your content.

1. A simple tool to save web pages for reading later.
2. Dont’ Make Me Think by Steve Krug