by Lorraine Ball
There is an imbalance when it comes to web design. During the kickoff and early phases of the project, all the emphasis is on the design. What will the home page image be? How many calls to action? Will there be parallax scrolling on the home page? All of those are important questions. But the most important question is often skipped: What do you want your website to say?
Great Web Copy is Not the Same as Great Brochure Copy
This is a complicated question because today websites are not simply online brochures. They are interactive sales tools which lead a prospective customer through a process, preparing them to buy from you. Brochures have a definitive beginning and end. In contrast, web copy must be written so it makes sense even if you start in the middle. If the on-page SEO is working, visitors may very well land on an interior page. The copy on that page needs to make sense and answer a specific question even if the reader hasn’t read your home or about pages.
Great Web Copy is Written to Be Scanned.
One of the biggest differences between web and brochure copy is the way we read. We typically read a brochure from beginning to end, but we scan web pages. Your web pages must be designed for scanning with lots of small paragraphs and headlines, but they must be written for scanning as well. Here are a few ways you can improve the ability of your reader to scan your page:
Headlines and subheads should tell a complete story. If all a reader does is skim the headlines, they should be able to grasp the key points on the page.
Use image captions wisely. Readers’ attention will naturally be drawn to an image. A well thought out caption, placed directly below the image, is likely to be noticed. Use this important area to drive home a key point.
Bullet points allow you to eliminate fluff. Your key points are often lost in a long paragraph. Bullets help you punch the key points.
Ditch the technical jargon and graduate level text. Even if your target audience is comprised of highly educated, technical types they will appreciate simple language which they can skim quickly. You can still be informative if you break up long sentences, write shorter paragraphs and aim for an 8th-grade reading level.
Avoid needless repetition. Get to the point, say what you need to and be done. This can be a challenge to balance brevity with the longer content needed to win search. The answer is to add related information.
Great Web Copy is Well Written.
You don’t have to be capable of writing the next great American novel, but if you want people to read your website it needs to be well written. If you aren’t sure when to use a colon or semicolon, confuse it’s and its, and generally don’t have an eye for detail, invest in a subscription to Grammarly ( grammarly.com) or a good human editor.
If you would like some feedback on your existing web copy give us a call.
by Lorraine Ball