Writing for your Website: 7 Best Practices
WRITING FOR YOUR WEBSITE TAKES TIME, but with the proper considerations, you can get it done fairly quickly and effectively.
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 goes 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 7 best practices for writing for your website:
1. THE GOAL
Establish the ultimate goal of the website. Is it more sales? More clients? Higher paying clients? More visibility online? Always have the goal in mind as you write.
2. THE AUDIENCE
So much of the time, when you start writing for your website 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. Know your audience & their pain points. Pain points are areas of top concern for your customers. What problem are they trying to solve?
3. KEEP IT SHORT
Rarely does anyone jump in and read a page full of text word by word. This study shows that scannable text calls attention to key information, lightening your readers’ cognitive load. Draw your reader in with short snippets of information they can skim through. A website should never take the place of a live conversation or the experience they’ll have as a paying customer. Don’t try to explain every detail of everything on your site. Let them contact you or sign up for more.
4. MAKE AN OUTLINE
Create “sections” using a hierarchy of 3 tiers: Headlines, Sub-heads and Body copy, each explaining your point in more detail.
- A Headline is a clear title. It should give the visitor confirmation that they’ve come to the page they intended. Don’t try to be clever or you’ll lose your readers to confusion.
- Sub-heads should always define the headline more clearly.
- Body copy goes into more detail—but it should still be concise.
5. BREAK IT UP
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 from the article or a quote. Both would be designed as larger text that is set apart from your body copy. It should say something that will illuminate a strong point in your copy.
Another way to break up text and make it more skimmable is to use bulleted or numbered lists.
6. 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 are writing for your website. For example, I can say “Contact Us” but I also might say “Give us a holler!” See the difference?
7. CALLS TO ACTION
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.” Always have a main Call to Action for every page and be specific.
I hope this is a helpful guide to get started writing for your website — 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.
Need help writing for your website? We offer Brand-Smart Web Design packages that include copywriting. We also help established businesses with refining their existing copy. Feel free to reach out and let’s explore the possibilities.