When starting work on a website, you may have an idea in your head as to how you’d like the site to look — but actually curating the content to make that vision come to life can be a little intimidating.
Choosing the right colors, photos, and fonts is exciting, and definitely important. But there’s one piece of content that doesn’t always get the same amount of attention: copy.
This may be for a number of reasons. To some people, words just aren’t that exciting. Or maybe the act of coming up with the copy sounds scary and overwhelming. But, in order to best reach the goal your website is intended to reach, you need good copy.
So, you ask, how can you achieve that — especially if writing isn’t your forte?
Hiring a copywriter
My biggest suggestion is simply to hire someone for the job. This may seem like an obvious suggestion, and maybe you’re trying to save money by doing it yourself, but think about it. Someone who writes web copy on a daily basis is likely much more efficient than you. You could spend days trying to come up with what may take a professional only a few hours. Professionally written copy is also more likely to lead to your end goal, which is likely making a profit of sorts, so the upfront investment in someone’s skills will be worth it in the long run.
Writing your own copy
But if you’re really set on doing it yourself…
Don’t bury the lede.
The simple truth is that web visitors just don’t take the time to read every word you’ve so carefully curated. Instead, they scan for the information they need. And if they don’t find it quickly, they leave. So when writing copy, make sure to put the most important information first and keep the content nice and digestable. In journalism, this is called the inverted pyramid (see photo below). The most important pieces of information get placed early on, and the background information is placed lower. This allows readers to still gain an understanding of a story even if they don’t fully read it. On the same note, make sure your headlines and photo captions communicate quickly and efficiently as well.
Keep it simple.
Sure, it’s fun to try to be creative and catchy. And you can be — but only a little. Because most web visitors know what they are looking for, they don’t want to spend time decoding your site to figure out what you really mean. Don’t make them read between the lines, because they won’t. Keep your copy simple, concise and to the point. Just pretend you’re writing for a 10-year-old.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket (or one web page).
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket (or one web page). Not everyone lands on the home page of a site first. While this may seem like the most logical place to have important information, that’s not necessarily the case. Focusing solely on the home page and not the inner pages can hurt you in the long run. In order to create the best user experience, it’s important that each page communicate what your site is about and what you can offer users. An important aspect of this is the call-to-action. Make sure each page has a link or button driving users to your ultimate goal, whether that is buying a product, signing up for a class, contacting you, or something else entirely.
Keep the presentation of the copy in mind.
Keep the presentation of the copy in mind. Site visitors are likely to take one look at a long, rambling paragraph and bolt. They don’t want to sift through a large block of text to find what they are looking for. While that paragraph may have the answers to their questions, it’s not presented in a user-friendly way. Instead of lumping all your words together, think about how you can use bullet points, formatting, font size, etc. Notice the use of colors and formatting in the below screenshot from our website. Presenting the information this way makes it easy to scan and more intriguing than a long paragraph.
Of course, there’s no magic formula for writing web copy, and it will differ slightly from site to site. But no matter what, try to always keep your target audience in mind and keep your content straightforward.