The importance of good web writing in a crisis

Recently I needed to find some information for a loved one in an immediate crisis. Stress levels and heart rates were high and I needed some good information to help understand what was going on and the best way I could help.

Web writing styles—conversational vs matter of fact

Depression.org.nz and Healthnavigator.org.nz are examples of different styles of web writing. The former is more informal and conversational, the latter is more to the point and matter of fact.

Because I was at a crisis point I didn't want to read a story. I wanted to get a quick run down of the facts. I found that Healthnavigator.org.nz provided the information I needed quickly by making good use of relevant headings/sub headings and bulleted lists. I also found the contrast of the black text on white background easier to read.

Who are you really writing for?

I can understand why Depression.org.nz was using a more conversational tone but wonder if there is a mismatch between the audience they think they are writing for (people with depression) and the audience that may be more likely to read the content (their supporters).

If you're feeling very depressed and anxious you may not have the energy or motivation to search for information on the Web and may respond better to face-to-face or over-the-phone guidance. The same could apply for anyone with a serious medical condition. It may be that supporters are the ones to seek out information online and are a more relevant audience to keep in mind when you're writing web content.

Examples

Compare the two web pages on the same topic listed below

Which one do you think communicates the key messages better?

Content is always king

To create content fit for a king (or anyone who could benefit from the information you publish) you need to focus on key tasks and key messages and analyse who your audience/s really are.  

In my case, I'm very grateful I was able to find some useful information quickly so I could more confidently carry on with the very important task of supporting someone I love.