Writing is one of these things which some people enjoy and others loathe. Writing copy for your website is no exception. (Copy is a fancy word for any kind of text written to make people buy things. Basically all text on your website is copy.)
For those of us who struggle with writing or just need a bit of guidance: Here are three short tips to help you write great copy which will engage your clients.
1. Write for your customer
The first step to writing good copy might seem a little bit counter intuitive at first: Try to forget about your business or your job and all you know about it and put yourself into your client’s shoes. Why? Because, of course you’re not making your website for yourself but for your potential clients. All the information you put on your website should help to turn page visitors into paying customers. To write good copy, you should think about what those potential clients want to know. Why have they come to your website? Most likely to find information on your services and products. Make it as easy as possible for them to understand what it is you offer - and leave out any kind of information that would distract from that.
This may sound incredibly obvious. But writing for your customer - not yourself - is much easier said than done. So, next time you don’t know what to write, think about your customers. What do they want to find out? What do they need to know?
2. Use simple language
Remember the last time you had to read something very dry and unexciting? Chances are, it was packed with long sentences and you were struggling to keep up with all the information thrown at you. Complicated words and technical jargon like adjudication didn't help it either. Now, think about your potential client, who's on the train checking out your website on his (or her) phone. He wants to have an easy time reading your content. So, use simple and plain language, to keep your clients reading.
Here’s how you do that:
- Write short sentences. If a sentence is longer than two lines, it’s too long.
- Don’t use difficult words.
- Use colloquial language and don’t shy away from using contractions like “didn’t”.
- Address your client using “you” or “everyone”.
- Give examples to illustrate a point.
- Use the active voice. Instead of saying “The company is run by me”, say “I run the company”.
The Hemingway Editor is a great free tool to help you with your copy. It shows you which sentences in your text are hard to understand and suggests alternatives. There’s also the (free) readability test tool by WebFX, which is a bit more on the techy side, but will give you a good idea of the general readability of your text. If you’re not sure whether your copy is cutting it, it’s definitely worth to give these a try.
3. Make it easy to scan through
We're living in times of record low attention spans. No-one has time anymore these days. Not even for incredibly well written copy. People prefer text they can quickly scan through and still feel like they're getting most of the information. Most ways to do this have something to do with what designers call white space. White space is basically exactly that: white space in between bits of content. Thisisdifficulttoread - because there are no spaces in between the letters. This concept also applies to other kinds of content. For example, it’s good practice to leave some space between a headline and the text that follows. This - amongst other things like bold letters - helps the headline stand out, and it’s clear to the reader that they’re now getting some new kind of information.
So, use headings to break up your text into easily digestible bits. Divide your text into even smaller sections with paragraphs. Lists with short bullet points are another way of making something easy and quick to read. In short: use white space to make your text easy to scan through.
Next time you’re writing copy for your website and you feel stuck, remember these three tips:
What should I write? - What your customer needs to know.
How should I write? - Using simple language.
How should I format it? - Make it easily scannable.
And don’t forget to proof read.