Today’s #FridayFact explains the impact that good writing skills can have on your salary. Obviously, the situation will vary from job to job and company to company, but overall, if you are a good writer, you have a good chance to earn more than someone who doesn’t write well.
Note: This infographic needs a text-based transcript. See the Optional Accessibility Transcript Activity for more details.
Eye-tracking studies show that people read online documents in an F-shaped pattern, shown here:
They scan across the top of the page and then down the left side of the page until they find another significant word or phrase that catches their attention. At that point, they scan across the page a bit and then resume scanning down the page a bit. People rarely read everything on the page. They scan and decide in a matter of seconds what action to take next. They may never scroll down the page.
If you are writing documents that people will read online—whether email messages, attached files, or webpages—you need to use document design elements that will put your most important information in the path of the F-shape pattern.
As you consider this study, think about the design strategies that would help readers find the significant information in your messages, and share your ideas in the comments.
Photo Credit: Jakob Nielsen’s F-Shaped Pattern For Reading Web Content
Today’s #FridayFact may seem contradictory. How can your professional bio NOT be about you? The answer is that it’s all about perspective—or to be more specific, about your reader’s perspective.
The goal for your professional bio (just like the goal for a resume or job application cover letter) is not simply to present all the facts of your life. Instead, it’s to present information about your life in such a way that convinces your readers something about yourself. You might be trying to convince
- Coworkers that you will collaborate well with them.
- Upper management that you are a great asset for the company.
- Potential clients that you have what it takes to meet their needs.
- The public that you care about something (like the environment or human rights).
In other words, you are telling your readers about yourself, but you are presenting the information in such a way that shows you care about what your readers think.
The Copyblogger article “How to Write an About Page” explains this point well, advising writers to try the following:
- Talk about the problems you solve.
- Talk about how you can help.
- Talk about what they’re interested in.
As they conclude, “Yes, it’s a spot for you to talk about yourself—but only in the context of how you serve your readers.”
As you think about your professional bio, consider how you can present details about yoursle in ways that will persuade your readers something about yourself. You can even suggest some strategies you can try in the comments here to get some feedback from your classmates.
Photo credit: You? by Shawn Rossi on Flickr, used under a CC-BY 2.0 license
Email is critical to the work of over half of the workers surveyed by the Pew Research Center on Technology’s Impact on Workers. The bar graph on the right shows that 61% of workers said that email was “very important” to their work.
Why Strong Emails Matters
The better you are at writing emails, the better you are likely to do in the workplace. As more businesses and organizations skip paper-based communication and turn to email, you will find that you spend a great deal of time reading, writing, and responding to email messages in the workplace. With email such an important part of the work that people do, learning the strategies that ensure your messages get read and accomplish their goals is crucial.
How to Write Strong Emails
To improve your email savvy, consider these tips on writing the subject for your email messages. If you want your email message to be read, you need a subject line that gives readers a short description of the contents in a way that piques their interest in the topic. When a subject line doesn’t, it’s possible that people will just skip on to something else in their inboxes that is interesting or has a clear purpose.
So how do you make sure you have strong subject lines? Here are ten tips:
- Be sure you have a subject line in the first place. Email without a subject grabs no one’s attention.
- Think about your audience and purpose. Your subject should summarize your purpose in a way that the audience will understand.
- Keep it short, since only the first few words are going to show up in the receiver’s inbox. Stick to 50 characters or less.
- Put the most important words at the beginning. If your subject line does get cut off, you want to be sure the words that matter are visible. Additionally, people skimming down their inboxes look at the beginning of the subject, not the ends.
- Be specific. “Upcoming Trip” leaves the reader wondering whose trip and to where. “Your Upcoming Trip to NYC” is much clearer.
- Avoid all caps. Nobody likes all caps.
- Use emoji sparingly. If you aren’t sure that your recipient will know what the emoji means, don’t use it.
- Make the subject unique. If that subject could be added to nearly anyone’s message, try again. For instance, “A Question for You” could go on any email that asks the recipient a question. “Question About New Invoice System” tells the recipient exactly what to expect in the message.
- Think of your subject line like a headline for a news story. Make it click-worthy (but avoid misleading subjects that seem more like clickbait).
- Use title case, capitalizing every important word. Never use all lower-case, since it looks unpolished and less professional.
Note: This bar graph already has a transcript.