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Writing goals

The basics

People reading our content are usually looking to answer a specific question. That question might be broad (get info on an upcoming meeting or learn about a disease) or narrowly-focused (find out if they can avoid a MACRA penalty or get their CME transcript), but either way our goal is to provide answers without distraction.

For each piece of content, consider your audience’s background, goal, and current mood, along with the Academy's objectives in driving users to the content. Ask these questions:

  • What is the goal of the reader? To complete a task? To research a topic?

  • What is the likely mood of the reader? Are they frustrated by a government regulation? Worried about a medical condition? In a hurry to register for a meeting?

  • Who would be best to provide expert advice? A member of the Academy staff? A dermatologist?

  • How should the content best be presented? As an article? A video? An interactive tool? An infographic? A combination of formats?

  • What do we want the user to do after satisfying their goal? Register for something? Buy a product? Give us feedback?

We don’t want to overload a reader with unnecessary information, choices to make, or complex ideas or phrases, when we don’t have to. Prime the reader with a brief outline of an article’s focus in an introductory paragraph or section, and stick to the topic at hand. Keep sentences, paragraphs, and procedural steps focused and concise.

With every piece of content we publish, we aim to:

  • Empower. Help people understand the Academy and the specialty by using language that informs them and encourages them to make the most of our services.

  • Respect. Treat readers with the respect they deserve. Put yourself in their shoes, and don’t patronize, lecture, or waste their time. Be considerate and inclusive. Don’t talk at people; communicate with them.

  • Educate. Tell readers what they need to know, not just what we want to say. Give them the exact information they need, along with opportunities to learn more. Remember that you’re the expert, and readers don’t have access to everything you know.

  • Guide. Think of yourself as a tour guide for our readers. Whether you’re leading them through our educational materials or a task, such as registering for an event, purchasing a product, or interacting with a tool, communicate in a friendly and helpful way.

  • Speak truth. Understand the Academy's and the specialty's place in our users’ lives. Avoid dramatic storytelling and grandiose claims. Focus on our real strengths.

  • Engage. Engaging content calls upon a deep understanding of the audience and tightly choreographed elements to deliver an experience that engrosses the user. To be engaging, content must be relevant to the reader at the moment they experience it.

In order to achieve those goals, we make sure our content is:

  • Clear and concise. Understand the topic you’re writing about. Use simple words and sentences. Content should be easily scannable.

  • Useful. Before you start writing, ask yourself:

    • What purpose does this serve?

    • Who is going to read it?

    • What do they need to know?

    • Would this content make sense to someone who doesn’t work here?

    • Could someone quickly scan this content and understand the material?

  • Authoritative. Users are counting on AAD.ORG for reliable, up-to-date information. Do your research. Cite your research. Facts matter.

  • Friendly. Write like a human, not a robot. Don’t be afraid to break a few rules if it makes your writing more relatable. All of our content should be warm, accurate, and helpful.

  • Appropriate. Write in a way that suits the situation. Just like you do in face-to-face conversations, adapt your tone depending on who you’re writing to and what you’re writing about.

  • Illustrative and interactive. Break free from the bounds of plain text. When appropriate, deliver your content via powerful imagery, infographics, multimedia, and interactive tools keeping in mind your audience, the goals of the project and usability. It is also important to make sure that the cost of producing such elements versus the benefits for your audience is taken into consideration.