There’s a web content writing buzzword that’s not yet in my dictionary but I suspect will soon be - repurposing, which is the subject of an article written by Marilynne Rudick and Leslie O’Flahavan.
Repurposing appears to convey more than what web writers would normally refer to as rewriting, redoing, reorganizing or transforming-print-into-readable-web-text, say the authors, who are partners in E-Write, a training and consultancy company.
According to Rudick and O’Flahavan, repurposing “contains the essence of what good web writers do when they adapt a print document to the web: they change the document substantially so it fulfills a purpose on the web. They alter the print original so it communicates to web readers who read in different ways and for different purposes than print readers do.”
Why do web readers often encounter articles that are not user-friendly? That’s because it is difficult and time-consuming to repurpose, say Rudick and O’Flahavan. Which is why they have come up with five guide questions on repurposing of print documents for the web:
1. Will web visitors want this content?
Know thy target market - it could be clients, members, potential customers, or researchers - and why they visit your site, e.g. to learn about you, to purchase products or services, or to get information.
2. Which is the best format — online text or rich in graphics?
Ask yourself, say Rudick and O’Flahavan: “Will my site visitors want this content in the form of online text or would they prefer a print download?” Repurposing may not work as well if the print original is rich in graphics or formatting.
If a long print document is long and needs to be so, breaking it up into short chunks could force readers to click endlessly. Not recommended.
Also, would readers prefer to read the content online or to download it?
3. Does the content support the website’s mission?
Any content that doesn’t support the mission of the site detracts from it. If you’re in the business of selling software, the authors illustrate, don’t bother to repurpose the results of your employee satisfaction survey.
4. Will the content fit well into the existing site structure? Or will the site structure need to be changed?
To decide whether to repurpose print content, writers for the web must consider how the content will fit into the existing site structure.
5. Is the content worth repurposing?
Outdated content does not make for site credibility. Readers expect online content to be up to date, nearly to the minute, say Rudick and O’Flahavan. Therefore, if you do not expect your content to have a long shelf life, no need to repurpose it.