Front load with action verbs and write meaningful links

April 22, 2021

The image for this post shows a modal pop-up that I found while doing some accessibility coaching.

Here's the text:

How to get free access to FT articles

The links to the Financial Times articles lead to a FT paywall website.

If you are a university student you might have free access to FT through your university library system.

If you are a secondary school student access to FT is provided through Financial Times for schools, which is available free online for 16-19 year olds and their teachers after a simple registration. You can check on this site whether your school is already signed up and create an individual account.

The entire database of links and questions can be downloaded as a single excel file.

Let's look at the process a content designer might go through to rewrite this.

Job stories

A job story is a way of thinking about specific tasks for your audience.

Although the audience for this case includes university students, secondary school students and teachers, they all want to do the same 2 things.

When I want to read the Financial Times articles suggested by the course

I want to know if I am eligible to read the articles for free

So that I can access them.

When I want to access the Financial Times for free

I want to know what the steps are to sign up

So that I have free access to FT articles.

The acceptance criteria for these jobs are: 

  1. This story is done when I know if I can access the FT for free.
  2. This story is done when I have signed up for free FT access.


I would make these changes to the structure

  • Add headings for each of the audience groups to help them find their information fast. Note that the headings start at <h2> because the modal "belongs to" the page.
  • Rewrite the links so that they start with a verb.
  • Front-load the paragraphs so that the important information is read first.


I would

  • Use the words from the Financial Times page, so that users know what to expect when they click a link. 
  • Simplify the language

Designed content

I'm not sure that the section about the database of links and questions should really be here, but I've left it for now.

Here the pair writing technique is useful, where the content designer talks with the subject matter expert.

<h2> Get free access to Financial Times (FT) articles

<p> The links to the Financial Times articles lead to an FT paywall. 

<h3> University students

<p> Ask at your university library about free access to the FT.  

<h3> Secondary school students

<p> Get free access to for schools anywhere in the world teaching 16-19 year old students, including further education colleges in the UK.

Check if your school is already registered and create an individual account. 

<h3> Teachers

<p> Register interest to set up your institution with free FT access for schools anywhere in the world teaching 16-19

<h3> Database of links and questions

<p> Download the CORE econ database of links and questions (Excel file)