10 Tips for Writing for Your Website
Website content creation: don’t get stuck!
As a brand and web designer, one of the most common obstacles I come across with clients is getting the final “copy,” or text, from them that will comprise a large part of the content on their site.
Almost every time the schedule go off-the-rails, it’s delayed because the client has underestimated the time it takes to come up with their content.
No one knows & understands your business like you do, so even if you hire a professional copywriter, you’re still going to need to actively participate in the process. Also keep in mind that even the best writers are not necessarily versed in writing for the web, so if you do hire someone, make sure they have experience in this area.
Below are 10 best practices for creating written content for your website:
1. Establish the ultimate goal of the website. Is it more sales? More clients? Higher paying clients? More visibility online?
2. Know your audience & their pain points. Pain points are areas of top concern for your customers. What problem are they trying to solve?
3. It’s not about YOU. So much of the time, when you start writing copy for your site you want to talk about all of the great credentials and experience the company has. The truth is, visitors really want to know if you understand them – learning about you is secondary.
4. Keep it short & skimmable. Rarely does anyone want to jump in and read a page full of text right at the start. Draw your reader in with short snippets of information they can skim through.
5. Make an outline. Create “sections” using a hierarchy of 3 tiers: Headlines, Sub-heads & body copy, each explaining your point in more detail which will usually become progressively longer. Sub-heads should always define the headline more clearly.
6. Break up the text. Photos or illustrations that support your content can be used to make the page more visually appealing, but a “visual” break can also be a few words or a quote used as a “call out” which is larger text that is set apart from your body copy. It should say something that will illuminate a strong point in your copy.
7. Always have a main Call to Action for every page. A Call to Action is the one thing you want your visitors to do as a result of coming to that page. It could be the same for multiple pages — “Contact Us” or “Sign Up for Our Mailing List” or even “Book a Free Session.” Be specific.
8. Consider your page headers. Headers are what is at the top of the page. It gives the visitor confirmation that they have come to the page they wanted to, so don’t be cryptic. It also offers clues to what’s further down the page before they decide to take a deep dive, so a Headline, short phrase (Sub-head), and possibly an image can help serve this purpose.
9. Establish your “voice.” It’s not just what you say, but how you say it. What’s your brand’s personality? Is it casual? sophisticated? playful? Whatever emotions you want your audience to experience by interacting with your company should be characterized in the way you write. For example, I can say “Contact Us” but I also might say “Give us a holler! We’d love to hear from you.” See the difference?
10. Less is more. Not only in the amount of copy you write for each page, but in the number of pages you have. A website should never take the place of a live conversation or the experience they’ll have as a paying customer, so if that’s what you ultimately want from your visitors, then don’t try to explain every detail of everything on your site. Let them contact you or sign up for more.
I hope this is a helpful guide for getting started on your copywriting — and if you follow these steps before venturing into the design phase, you’re much more likely to stay on schedule and launch on time.