After reading the Web Writing Style Guide, it struck me that creating a blog, website, or even a tweet is somewhat like going on a blind date and follows many of the same rules.
- Dress yourself up– use visual design to create the best possible first impression.
- Your appearance should give a clear indication of what you are about.
- Don’t overdo your makeup (background) or clothing (font & images) – otherwise they can be a distraction.
- Be polite and respectful– use your best manners and remember common courtesy.
- Say please and thank you when responding to comments and even criticism.
- Ask before you interrupt – don’t assume that the chef of the restaurant wants your input in his kitchen.
- Don’t offer brutal criticism to anyone. If is ineffective and often hurtful. If things aren’t going well on the “date,” simply look for another site to visit.
- Avoid seeming desperate– desperation is a turn off in any situation (real-life or cyber).
- Don’t beg. “Please” is a nice word and should be used, but not to harass or guilt people into a second date or repeat visit.
- Try not to “overshare.” Include content into your conversations that is relevant and interesting ; avoid including information or content that would make your “date” uncomfortable.
- Keep your companion (audience) in mind. For whom are you writing? Is it a specific group or the public at large? This will often determine content and design elements.
- Manage the conversation– don’t deliver your life’s history in a single long monologue.
- Don’t ramble on. Break your content up into smaller sections with subheading and lists.
- This offers a great opportunity for your “date” to process what you are delivering in smaller chunks and will also make it easier to remember the big stuff.
- Offer your best– otherwise, your “date” will just move on to another site.
- Don’t assume anyone owes you a visit.
- Follow good grammar rules and use good attribution. Give credit where it is deserved. Often that will gain you respect much more quickly than taking credit for someone else’s ideas. You never know what or who your reader already knows. How embarrassing to be caught taking credit for someone else’s joke?
Not everything in the writing guide could be equated to a blind date, but much of it was an obvious comparison. A good rule of thumb is that first impressions make or break you, and quality will always get a return call.