What Does Good Website Copy Look Like?
Posted on 9th June 2020
When you’re planning and designing your website, there are two key factors that you have to bear in mind. The first is the actual content, which includes the written words, visual imagery and videos, and the tone of voice and messaging you want to get across.
The second is the visual appearance of your site. This includes the layout, colour scheme, the site map and navigation, as well as branding. In order for a site to be successful and hold a visitor’s attention, it needs to strike a perfect balance between the two.
The web copy that you use on your site needs to work in both of the above categories. It needs to be well-written, engaging, and informative. But that on its own is not enough. You could have the most interesting copy in the world, but if it is presented in one long block of text in a small font, people simply will not read it.
The text needs to be written in a way that is suitable for consumption on a web platform. That’s because people read web content in a different way to a newspaper or novel. There are certain rules about how to write and present web copy that can make a site much more visually appealing and therefore much better at getting visitors through your sales funnel or towards your end goal.
So, what should good web copy look like? Here are some fundamental rules for creating compelling content.
Think about scanning
Think about how your own brain works. When you click through into a website, do you immediately dive into the web copy and read three or four paragraphs? Or does your brain scan the whole page first looking for the visual clues about how the site works and where you can find the best information?
Web copy needs to be written in a different way. It should be easily scanned, with key messaging clear and simple to understand in a few seconds. That means short passages of text in large fonts in key places on the page. It means separating content into sections, driven by features and benefits, and often with visuals attached.
Of course, web content has some things in common with news writing and other more prosaic layout formats. For example, with a news story you want to get the main information as quickly as possible.
In news writing this is called the inverted news pyramid. To begin with, you need a headline that lays out the fundamentals of the story in as few words as possible. Then you need an opening paragraph that expands on that but still keeps it brief. As the article progresses it can go into more detail.
Good web copy and website design works in the same way. You need to present the most important information quickly and succinctly in the most visible place on the page. As the content progresses you can go into more detail, but that gives you the option of hiding some of this web copy away on other pages or drop-down menus.
The key message here is to get your most important content up front and centre.
Keep it short
All of the above leads into one thing. Keep it short. If you land on a web page with thousands of words of text then it is going to put people off. Yes, it is important to provide valuable information but there are other places you can put this on your website.
Also, certain pages of your site - such as your blog for instance - are more suited to lengthy bits of content. But your main web pages should be succinct and easy to read.
Use headers and sub-headers
One of the easiest ways of keeping things easy to read is to use lots of headers and sub-headings to break up the text. Spread the text around in boxes or sections in small chunks and pair it with an image or graphic. If a visitor wants to learn more they can always click through to another page.
Headers and sub headers are also ideal for presenting your key information in simple and easy to use sections.
Don’t be too clever
Again, remember that this is not a novel. You don’t need to make your copy overcomplicated or too clever. You’re not here to impress anyone, you’re there to try to capture their imagination and convince them that you have an answer to their problem.
Use simple language where you can and keep your sentences short and easy to read. If there is a way of saying something in one word rather than five, then use it. Web copy needs to be short, simple, information that’s rich and easy to break down into chunks.
Emphasise your benefits
Every company likes to think of themselves as the best. But rather than using up valuable space explaining why this is the case, give the reader the main benefits up front and centre. People only really care about how you can solve their problems. Whether that is buying a product or booking a service, they want to know why you are the people to help them.
Make sure your main benefit message is central to your web copy message. Make it stand out and make it clear.
The way web copy is written and presented on a site can make a huge difference. After all, your site can look beautiful but unless your visitors can find the information they are looking for, it is not going to be of use to them.
Write your copy simply, with a clear message and purpose, break it down into smaller sections and make sure it is designed in the right way with a flow. Follow those pointers and it can be very powerful.
If you would like to know more about how to write web copy, or for advice on how to present your website, get in touch with a member of our team.
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