Freshen up your online content
It’s always a good idea to make sure your online content is up to date and in-line with our brand standards.
- Information on websites is easy to find and easy to read.
- Content is concise and meaningful to the reader.
- Content is easy to browse on all types of screens, including a mobile device.
Write for your reader
- When evaluating whether to include information on a website ask yourself: Why is this information important to the reader? If you don’t know why, then don’t include the information.
- Information should have meaning that a reader can learn from or take action on.
- Avoid using jargon and acronyms your reader won’t understand. Write in plain language so readers with low literacy levels or non-English speakers may understand.
- Consider having separate pages or website areas for public facing content versus more technical health professional information.
- Be personal and stay away from using third person, authoritative language. Use “you” instead of “the patient” or “the family”. When referring to Vancouver Coastal Health, use “we” where possible.
Information should be easy to skim
- Prioritize information: Place the most important content at the top of a page.
- Write in the active voice
- Use short paragraphs and simple sentences. Don’t use unnecessary adjectives or descriptive words.
- Break up content using short but descriptive headings, just like we’ve done with subheadings on this page.
- Use numbered lists for outlining steps in a process and bullets to present options. Do not use more than seven listed items at a time. Capitalize the first letter of bullet points.
- Try to include a call to action, even something as simple as clicking through to another related web page. For example: “Share this information with your networks” or “Find out where you can get your flu shot.”
Give links useful names
- Be specific and use the title of the document or webpage.
- Avoid using general terms such as “click here” or “learn more” for naming a link. Instead, include a short description giving the reader some information about why they should click, where the link will lead, and if it will open a webpage or a document (PDF).
- To improve SEO (search engine optimization), use keywords that users may search.
Use sentence case for webpage titles and sub-headings. Only capitalize the first word of a title or heading, unless it is a proper name.
VCH brand & logos
If you’re looking for VCH brand logos and colours, visit our brand guidelines page on VCH.ca.
Helpful resources for web writing
- Siteimprove blog: Plain language 101
- Siteimprove blog: 3 ways to confuse readers with bad content
- Siteimprove blog: What is readability?
- Siteimprove blog: Why web accessibility should be a priority now
Reference materials for writing style
- Style – CP Style Guide
- Spelling – Canadian Oxford Dictionary
- Metric usage – Canadian Metric Practice Guide or the Metric Editorial Handbook (Canadian Standards Association)
- Plain Language Medical Dictionary
- Writing for the Web: Nielsen Norman Group
Read more about VCH websites
Tags: Information Management