Do we need a texting style guide?


I ran across this article that, to my utter surprise, announced that the plain old period (that seemingly innocent concluder of sentences), is now perceived as surly in text communications:

The period was always the humblest of punctuation marks. Recently, however, it’s started getting angry. I’ve noticed it in my text messages and online chats, where people use the period not simply to conclude a sentence, but to announce “I am not happy about the sentence I just concluded.”…

“In the world of texting and IMing … the default is to end just by stopping, with no punctuation mark at all,” Liberman wrote me. “In that situation, choosing to add a period also adds meaning because the reader(s) need to figure out why you did it. And what they infer, plausibly enough, is something like ‘This is final, this is the end of the discussion or at least the end of what I have to contribute to it.’”

As communication channels change, so too do the content of our communications. Perhaps we need to think about a style guide for texting/IM in the same way we do writing for the web, as apparently something as mundane as a period could have a profound effect on how users interpret their mobile and online service experiences.

What About Us?


I’m always thinking about how to engage users through personal connections with otherwise opaque services.

This Search Engine Journal article has a similar focus with respect to About Us pages: “25 Creative and Engaging About Us Pages“.

According to the piece there are some rules of thumb about what makes good About Us pages:

For starters, it should be informative. It doesn’t always have to tell the whole story, but it should at least provide people with an idea of who and what you are. Besides that, it should contain social proof, testimonials, and some personal information that viewers can relate to such as education, family, etc.

The article continues with some examples of stellar About Us pages and why they are successful.

One in particular that stood out to me as being somewhat analogous to libraries is National Geographic. Like our library, it has a long history, is an organizational vs. personal site, and has a great depth of information to convey about what it does due to its multifaceted activities.

The data fan in me also liked this graphic designer’s About page because he uses some unexpected visuals (a humorous bar chart) to communicate his skills. It made me wonder how we could visually portray ourselves with the user and collections data we’ve amassed.

I point out this article to encourage some thinking about ‘humanizing’ our web presence. As brought out in my recent user interviews, there is a strong desire to connect with people in addition to materials. Hopefully these examples will generate some ideas and tactics you could use for your own pages that would help users connect with the content in a more personal way.