7 Easy Ways to Transform Dull Website Content

In the last article I gave a structured approach to writing website copy. If you think your copy could be better, punchier or it’s just lacking something, try applying the following principles to transform your flaccid, dull text into something truly wondrous.

1. It’s Not About You (well, actually it is)

It’s very easy to fall into the trap of text being ‘me/we/us’ based. The people reading your text are only really interested in one person...themselves (it’s all “me, me, me”)! 

Take those me/we/us words and rewrite them so they become you words:

“we have been in business for 20 years”

becomes...

“you can benefit from our years of experience”.

2. It’s All About the Benefits

Talking of benefits – someone once said to me “people don’t buy features...they buy benefits”. And it’s true!

For instance, you might be interested to know that a bicycle has a ’24 speed Deraillieur gears”. You’d be much more interested to know that that you could ‘effortlessly cycle up the steepest hills’.

So take a feature and actually tell people what it will do for them...don’t make them work it out for themselves, because they won’t!

3. Positivity

Try to avoid using negative words in your copy. They might not appear negative but most times they can be re-written in a more positive way. Negative words often start with dis, mis and un.

“In the unfortunate event that your delivery arrives damaged, we aim to avoid disappointment by sending a replacement”

becomes...

“Occasionally deliveries don’t arrive in perfect condition. Don’t worry, just get in touch and we’ll send a replacement out straight away”

4. Detail Detail Detail

Poorly written pages often lack anything meaty...they are vague, waffly and don’t really tell the reader anything. Spice up your content with real information. Dates, times, who, where and how are all great for adding some realism.

“I started roasting coffee beans when I was younger, making coffee for family members.”

becomes...

“I was just 12 years old when I started roasting real Arabica coffee beans. My Grandpa Joe knew when it was time to finish in the garage when the unmistakable smell of freshly roasted coffee would waft out of the kitchen window.”

5. Don’t Be a 7 Stone Weakling

A lot of copy is weak because it tries to sound clever, posh or worse still, it falls into that awful trap of ‘marketese, corporate gobbledegook’. You know that stuff...you understand all of the words on the page, but none of it makes any sense or tells you anything!

Use simple, direct words. Often the worst offenders are words ending in ‘tion’ so keep an eye out for those.

“If there are any points on which you require explanation or further particulars we shall be glad to furnish such additional details as may be required by telephone.”

becomes...

“If you have any questions, please call.”

The Plain English Campaign has loads of useful information including the A-Z of Alternative Words.

6. Personality

How your page reads is in part down to the personality you give it. You can manufacture a personality for your copy based on how you want your site to be perceived. Innocent Drinks are a great example of a company that has a friendly, almost quirky corporate personality.

An extract from their ‘Us’ page:

The idea was to make it easy for people to do themselves some good. And to make it taste nice too. We wanted people to think of innocent drinks as their one healthy habit; like going to the gym, but without the communal shower afterwards.

That may be too chatty and quirky for your company. The point is to think about how you want to be perceived and write accordingly.

7. Break it up

Finally use bold and italic text to emphasise key sections of your page. Use it to highlight the really juicy nuggets of copy you really want people to read. Don’t use underlines as links are often underlined and this just confuses people. Depending on the styling of your site you might want to use brighter colours or highlighter style backgrounds, to draw attention to specific words or sentences...use it sparingly though otherwise it can look pretty garish.

Pull quotes can really break up a page – ask your friendly neighbourhood website designer to style a few for your page. They may even be able to offer some advice on images which might reinforce your message or story.

 

It's worth mentioning that all of the advice and tips here can be used in emails, letters, brochures, sales pitches, social media etc.

If you run an ecommerce site or webshop, you can apply all these principles to product descriptions. Having a great product description can seriously boost conversion rates. If you’d like some inspiration take a look at Firebox who have always written engaging, salesy descriptions which make it a fun and enjoyable experience browsing the site.

Happy writing!
 


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