Thursday, April 16, 2009

WriteMonkey Scores

WriteMonkey is a free text editor for Windows with an old school user interface and rich new school features. It can really serve to relax the appearance of your writing workspace and so increase your focus.

What makes writing with WriteMonkey so liberating and fun? It's peaceful, simple, and makes you feel like the words you type are all that exist in this moment. That is, when you're using a black screen and teal lettering as I am (colors are totally customizable), you feel a great connection to -- you.

I have spent a lot of time typing on white screens in my life. White screens tire you out and make you sleepy and crave chocolate and trail mix. They also make you want to read the internet. Anything on the internet. White screen + windows = ooh! Let's search if there is a sale on trail mix somewhere in New England. Full screen, black with teal = ooh! lets get to work and write. The simple screen aids written expression by being itself less 'wow' and more 'now'.

Strangely, I am typing this in WriteMonkey with the same teal/black color combination that I wore to my eighth grade dance. Yes, the one where I took five girls and bought them all all a rose to match their dress with a ribbon to match my shirt that was the color of the words I type right now! What a little stud? Hardly, they were already planning to go together, so I just asked the lot of them. Heather P.'s mom drove us in her Cadillac. We went out for Chinese at the Golden Fountain, which subsequently changed owners and was renamed Dun King Do n'Ut.

Using WriteMonkey tells the very simple story (to you) that right now it's safe for your words to come out and play. And, yes I know that there are other ways to turn your computer into Doogie Howser's (props for that reference to DigablePlanet on the Lifehacker comment thread), but this way is really sweet. And customizable. And friendly. And it will help you score dates (You, not me. I'm taken.)

And though you're reading this now in black or white or having your laptop read it out loud to you while you look for teal ribbons for your date(s), remember this: You don't have to disparagingly yell "Write, Monkey!" to yourself anymore, there's a freeware program that will serenely coax that writing out of you.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Let Them Go

Letting Go of the Words by Ginny Redish is a useful and wonderfully organized guide to writing web content. It takes you step by step through how people really read and use web sites. It then shows how to write and organize your information to make users of all sorts happy while clicking though your site. Happy = finding what they are looking for.

Even as the web changes, the principles outlined in Letting Go will continue to be important:
1) Make your website easy to navigate- put navigation in an easy place to find.
2) Focus on your audience. Help them get where they want to go.
3) Write for the medium. Keep it in short logical bits- bullets not paragraphs (most of the time)!
4) Don't put too much on one page.
5) Use verbs for hyperlinks.
6) Read the book for more :)

It sounds so easy, but heeding the simple, logical directions in Letting Go of the Words will help your website be easier and make you look smarter and more helpful to your customers. I hear that customers like it when you're helpful . . .