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The basics of writing copy that won’t send your customers to sleep

Firstly, a small admission, we’re not, by any stretch of the imagination accomplished writers. We’re designers, but working on web projects means that we come across all kinds of web copy (the good, bad and the down-right awful) on pretty much a daily basis. This means that while it’s fair to say that we’re not experts in this area, we definitely have enough experience to able to offer you some handy hints and tips.

Here are our top five tips for keeping your readers engaged and informed.

Web users tend to scan more than they read.

Make sure your text is easily scanable. Reading online tends to put a bit more strain on your eyes than reading traditional, print based media. This is partly due to the light given out by computer monitors and tablets screens. In fact, there is actually a medical condition known as Computer Vision Syndrome [CVS].

This means that rather than reading every word from the top to the bottom of the page, users have a tendency to scan the text, picking out the points that they think are most relevant.

To help make your copy easier to scan you can:

  • Break the text up in more easily digestible chunks and use relevant headings to break down sections.
  • Use bullet points to break up the copy and highlight key points.
  • Incorporate visual cues that will add interest and emphasise important information.
Cut to the chase

No doubt you have a ton of information you want to convey to your readers. However, put yourself in their shoes and understand how frustrating it can be when a page of text goes on for forever and comes to no real conclusion.

So, get to the point and do it fast.

Chances are most of your users probably only want the essential information about your products or services. You might be an expert in your field with lots to say, but try not to overload your customers with too much information at once.

  • Be brutal with your editing. Identify the waffle and cut it.
  • Where possible, try to eliminate unnecessary words. Remember you still want to keep things interesting, so the trick is to find the balance.
Avoid shop talk

Keep things simple and don’t try to blind your clients with science. You might think using technical language makes you sound more knowledgeable, but the reality is that it will turn off many of your visitors. Speak your customers’ language and try to stick to plain English.

For example, your industry might use specialist terms to describe certain processes,  but, if there’s a chance your audience won’t be familiar with these terms, you might need to replace them with simpler phrases.

  • Avoid industry jargon.
  • Remove confusing words or phrases. If they can’t be removed offer an explanation.
  • Keep things as simple as possible.
Write for people not robots

Web copy should always be written with your audience in mind and not search engines. However, you still  want to make sure you include a few keywords or phrases that are relevant to your business. The trick is to do this sparingly and without impacting upon the readability of your text.

For example if you are a restaurant in Manchester, you want to add a sprinkling of relevant keywords throughout your site. You could say something along the lines of “As one of the newest restaurants in Manchester, we are …”

If you write naturally about your business, you should find that keywords end up falling naturally into your text, headings and internal links. Don’t try to force it.

Sell the sizzle not the sausage

Try to put yourself in the shoes of your customer and instead of telling them what your product is or what it does, focus on explaining how it can help them. The difference is subtle but important.

For example, if you sell electrical appliances, you could harp on about how your latest model fridge freezer is ‘A’ rated for energy efficiency. Or, you could explain that this fridge freezer will save your customers money on their fuel bills, whilst also being great for the environment. Which one sounds more enticing to you?

Remember:

  • Your customer doesn’t care about what your product does unless they know what’s in it for them.
  • Not all benefits are physical, some can be emotional too.

 

Hopefully this article has given you a few pointers on how to start writing copy for your website. It’s by no means an exhaustive list, but it should at least give you a starting point from which you can build.

Need some help shaping your perfectly crafted copy into a great looking web design? Get in touch today and discover how we can help you make it happen.

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