Writing in Digital Spaces

While it may not seem related to ethical dilemmas at first, writing in digital spaces (rather than, say, print or environmental) requires a special approach. When looking at a website, email, social media site, etc., people tend to skim. People are much more inclined to read more text when it is off a screen rather than online, so writers must be aware of this and their audience’s needs. Writers shouldn’t burden their audience with sifting through lengthy blocks of information to find what they need; this is where looking through an empathetic lens like care ethics gives writers the skills they need for success.

Often a company will want writers to list or talk about everything that they want customers to know; however, this often doesn’t align with what customers need to know. Being able to be attentive to an audience and responsive to their needs more often than not cuts down on the text and adjusts it to be beneficial to the reader. It can sometimes be difficult to see how a writer can be attentive to an audience they never see, but I’ve found some ways to apply care ethics to the digital realm.

One of the biggest ways I’ve found is through surveys, watching open/clickthrough rates for emails, and checking to see what kinds of calls are coming in from customers to the company. I may not be able to interact with each customer and monitor their needs face to face, but I can get an overall understanding of how our “care receivers'” are doing. This also allows me to focus in on the customers’ needs that they have vocalized and pushed back on the company when they are wanting to focus on information the customers don’t want/need to know. Burdening readers with communications and interactions that are overwhelming and unhelpful (only appeasing internal stakeholders) could be seen as unethical, so it is very important to approach each communication with the reader’s needs weighed most heavily in the decisions.

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