The primary goal is to deliver your message to your audience clearly and effectively. With today’s range of devices giving people the power to view your content from anywhere, understanding how and why they’re interacting with your content is more important than ever.
Most online content has multiple needs and audiences to balance. Some of the most important goals you’ll want to consider are:
- What do people who visit this page want to know? What questions do they have?
- What did they come to our site to do? Is there a task they’re trying to complete?
- How should you balance and prioritize multiple audiences and varying goals?
- What is the larger goal of your company or organization?
- What sets your organization apart from the competition?
- How does this piece of content fit in with the rest of your messaging?
- Are you making sure to keep brand tone/messaging style in mind?
Voice and Tone
A university’s brand voice works similarly to an individual’s. Its tone changes according to the situation — lighthearted for an event announcement, to-the-point in a campus safety policy — but the voice is the personality that remains consistent.
Use brand and messaging guides to inform the institutional voice in your writing (what to say), and use the following to craft your tone depending on the context (how to say it).
Using first-, second- and third-person
Upper-level web content
Web content (upper level web pages) should have a conversational tone, addressing readers as though you were speaking directly to them. Use the first-person plural (“we”) to refer to the college, department, or unit, and speak directly to the user (“you”) so your content will sound approachable instead of detached or impersonal.
● Students who wish to change a major or minor offered under the Department of Biomedical Engineering must submit a completed change of major and/or minor form.
● Use this form if you want to change a major or minor from our department.
Stories, biographies and profile pages
When you’re writing about a person in a feature story, news story, news announcement, biography or individual profile, use third-person voice (“he” or “she”). If you decide to use first-person voice singular (“I”), make sure it’s obvious that it’s a direct quote.
Contractions for common phrases, “we don’t,” “you’ll” or “it’s” may seem informal coming from an organization. However, this small change makes text seem much more personal, and has become a common practice in web writing.
Users come to our websites with specific tasks already in mind, and information buried in long, difficult text slows them down and gives them the wrong impression of the university, college or your department. Research shows that online readers and even experts prefer plain, simple language to formal, academic-style text on the web.
Things to avoid:
- Internal jargon. Avoid any terms you would need to explain to a new person.
- Overused marketing language.
- Acronyms. Always spell out on first reference, and eliminate altogether when possible.
- “Academic” words. Avoid words like “utilize” or “methodologies” when a simple “use” or “methods” will do.
Use specific examples to make your point more meaningful, rather than clichés that could describe any organization, such as:
- “Our unique, innovative programs”
- “World-class facilities”
- “Engaged faculty”
- “Cutting-edge research”
It’s important to use a consistent style across our websites. We use Associated Press style, as well as the Texas A&M University College of Engineering/Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station, Texas A&M University and The Texas A&M University System style guides.