semantic web aha media

A couple of weeks ago I was at a meeting for a discussion on something called the Semantic Web. A what? Never fear, dear reader, after this article and what Wikipedia has to say, you too will understand (or have some grasp) of the Semantic Web. But since I don’t want you to have to jump (a coping strategy), I will explain in brief.

The Semantic Web is a fantasy of all data on the Web being able to talk to each other. For example, your online calendar would automatically publish photographs you took that day without you having to do anything. Basically 2 different applications would be able to talk to each other and would be programmed to do so, creating higher usability for all. What would be really interesting if a calendar that would publish photos you’re going to take before the day. But I digress….

At the meeting, the presenter, Duane Degler, was discussing how users use search. He thinks they still type in full sentences and not keywords. This is distressing for a Web writer like myself because my very existence hinges on the use of keywords. I don’t expect my readers to type in full sentences. I believe they have an idea of what they want: “Where is a great Italian restaurant in Vegas?”

They don’t type in that sentence, do they? They type in to the search box of their choice (cough…Google…cough) Italian restaurants Vegas. However, when I objected to what Duane was saying, he responded that he believes users have learned to cope with keywords, but humans still don’t think that way on their own.

Fascinating stuff, and it got me thinking about what other things we make users cope with while they are online. A well constructed Web page should do a few things in my opinion:

1) Answer your users’ questions. This is the gold standard of Web writing.
2) Be scannable, so information can be identified and read easily.
3) Minimize coping strategies.

It seems to me, and again, I’m staying on message, this last one needs the input of all Advanced Web Professionals (AWPs) on a project (see I helped you cope- I explained what an AWP was, in case you’re not paying attention on this blog OR in case you are a first-timer.)

It’s not just the writer or content strategist who works to minimize coping strategies. Designers need to think about clean, usable design that sets well-written content and navigation. Developers need to think about load times and broadband and applications talking to each other as well as different browsers’ capabilities. Architects need to think about keeping the architecture so deep and so wide.

What else do you think AWPs should be thinking about when it comes to minimizing users’ coping strategies? How do you cope online? And do you know of any good Italian restaurants in Vegas?

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