Jan 25, 2016
There are many essential elements to a successful website. The design, layout, textures, navigation, colours and images all play a part. But the most important contributors to success are the actual words on the pages. There are very few examples of websites which don’t rely on words to convey meaning and make the site useful. To some, particularly those regularly working with documents, finding appropriate text to fill their website pages is intuitive and straightforward but for others it is less obvious and can be a struggle. For instance: How do you describe your business? How many words should there be? How will the different bits be organised?
The text, or copy, that appears on the pages of a website should fulfil the needs of the website visitor. It goes without saying that the words need to be informative, and if they are also entertaining then that is a bonus which will keep viewers on the site. Writing should be clear, concise, and consistent and make salient points which are designed to persuade the site visitor take some form of action; whether that is ordering a product, visiting an attraction, or making contact. If a visitor can quickly find the information they need and act on it then the website is doing its job well. There should be enough text to achieve this but not too much. To quote the words of Albert Einstein; “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
People browsing websites don’t like to get bogged down in lengthy pages of rambling prose and tend to skim over the content and pick out the bits that are of interest to them. So it is essential to include appropriate headings and subheadings to mark out and make sense of the different sections of text. Paragraphs should not be too long and it should be obvious to readers of all abilities exactly what they mean. Avoid the use of jargon or technical definitions where possible and don’t use a long ‘fancy’ word when a shorter one will do.
But how should you decide on what exactly to write?
When writing the text for website pages, I think it helps to try and get into the mindset of your prospects, think of why they have arrived on the page and what they are looking for and then provide them with the information they need. Imagine if you had just 30 seconds to describe to somebody you just met who you are and what you do. That is the path to take when brainstorming ideas for website copy. Keep it simple and focus on features and benefits to the customer.
A simple example might be to imagine a Web page for a fictional bakery. Put yourself in the shoes of the website visitor: What is that visitor looking for?
She will definitely be interested in the goods on offer and probably also how much they cost. So there’s an easy starting point in describing the products and prices. Our visitor might also want to know where to find the bakery or if it is possible to order online. Well that’s easy too so get that down. Perhaps the visitor is salivating over the glorious images of our delicious cakes and buns and is interested in how our goods are prepared, what ingredients are used and how they are baked? Now we’re on a roll! (No pun intended). Just a little time considering the needs of an imaginary website visitor has given us plenty of ideas for the website and we are now well on the way to having the essential text. Once the copy has been written it can then be organised into appropriate sections and clearly signposted with headings, images and icons, etc to make it user-friendly and business effective.
In conclusion, it is obvious that having effective text on a Website is vital, but perhaps not so obvious is what to include and how to organise it. So it is no surprise that many find creating effective website copy difficult to write. But with a bit of brainstorming and forward planning, coming up with ideas and getting them down does not have to be an ordeal. And once the ideas are there they can be edited and formatted to suit.
Tony Williams is a freelance web developer specialising in affordable solutions for local businesses. Find him on Twitter @tdlwebs
If you are finding it difficult creating and formatting the text for your website pages then perhaps I can help.
I don’t know all the ins and outs of your business so I’ll need some help with the details. But I can write and edit original articles and descriptions to suit. I can also help with proofreading, making corrections, making text ‘flow’, and describing products and events effectively.
Prices start at only £30.00 for 500 words.
Share This Article
Tony Williams is the founder of TDL Web Developments and specialises in creating effective and affordable Web solutions for local businesses in Wirral.
Follow on Twitter @tdlwebs