*Review and comment on the ProudCity Content Guide.
The ProudCity Content Guide is a resource to help you better understand and use best practices in writing for web-based visitors, as well as get you started in developing your own content on the ProudCity platform.
Plain language (also called Plain English) is communication your audience can understand the first time they read or hear it. Language that is plain to one set of readers may not be plain to others.
Written material is in plain language if your audience can:
- Find what they need;
- Understand what they find; and
- Use what they find to meet their needs.
- Less is more! Be concise.
- Break documents into separate topics.
- Use even shorter paragraphs than on paper.
- Use short lists and bullets to organize information.
- Use even more lists than on paper.
- Use even more headings with less under each heading.
- Questions often make great headings.
- Present each topic or point separately, and use descriptive section headings.
- Keep the information on each page to no more than two levels.
- Make liberal use of white space so pages are easy to scan.
- Write (especially page titles) using the same words your readers would use when doing a web search for the info.
- Dont assume your readers have knowledge of the subject or have read related pages on your site. Clearly explain things so each page can stand on its own.
- Never use "click here" as a link — link language should describe what your reader will get if they click the link.
- Eliminate unnecessary words.
- Short, direct sentences
- Short paragraphs, use lots of paragraph breaks
- Use subheadings
- Avoid jargon and use plain English
- Less is more
- Active voice
We recommend using the Associated Press Stylebook for content styling. The 18F Content Guide is an excellent primer to both AP Style and general best practices:
- Acronyms and abbreviations
- Active voice
- Address the user
- Avoid duplication
- Be concise
- Conscious style
- Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
- Numbers and percentages
- Optimize headings and titles
- Plain language
- Publishing legal and technical content
- Specific words and phrases
- Trademarks and brands
- URLs and filenames
- Voice and tone
- Hemingway Editor: Free web app that helps makes writing “bold and clear.”
- Readability Score: Free online readability calculator.
- How users read (UK Government Service Design Manual)
- What should a city website do? (Code for America)
- 18F Content Guide
- Associated Press Stylebook
Before migrating content from your old site to the new, it is best to assess what should eliminated, retained or re-purposed.
- Content Migration Roadmap (Code for America)
ProudCity Answers lets you easily add searchable, topic-specific plain language information into your website.
- How do I pay my water bill?
- How do I apply for a city job?
- What is my trash and recycling pickup day?
To help you get started, we created the ProudCity Answers Guide that categorizes government-specific topics and relevant questions you can use to create your own ‘Answers’ content.
You may notice questions in multiple categories, and this is intentional. For example, a person trying to renew their driver’s license can find information under both ‘Transportation’ or ‘Permits and Licenses’ because both categories are logical places to look.
ProudCity News allows you to easily add various news types to your website.
- City news
- Mayor news
- Press release
- Blog posts
ProudCity Events allows you to easily add events to your website.
- City Council meetings
- Always include name, date, timeframe, location, description, contact and RSVP or payment is applicable.
ProudCity Social Wall aggregates and displays your latest social media posts on your city website.
We support the following social media platforms:
- Guide to writing for social media (Centers for Disease Control)
ProudCity makes agency contact information more accessible.
Commonly searched agencies:
- City Council
- Parks & Recreation
- Public Works
- Provide comprehensive contact information:
- email address
- Include business hours
When providing an overview of your city, keep in mind the various audience types looking for information:
- Residents: Describe your community and why people want to live or move to your city.
- Businesses: Describe your business community and economy.
- Visitors: Describe attractions and activities for tourists.
Common about page details:
- Census information: County, state and population
- Unique highlights: Cultural institutions, businesses, landmarks, historical information, environment, parks, sports, etc.)
- Wikipedia city pages provide a great format for describing your city (example: Oakland, Calif.)
Once you’ve developed your content, there are a number of distribution avenues available to effectively communicate to as many residents as possible (many of which integrate with the ProudCity platform).
- Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc.)
- Newsletters (MailChimp)
- Feeds (automatically included in all ProudCity websites via RSS)