The Simple Way to Write Website Content

A tweet from one of our customers prompted me to write this article. I replied with a few tips on writing website content and thought it would be useful to write up a full article as I know that even writing one page can be a daunting prospect.

Getting Started

Most people struggle just to get out of the starting blocks. Often, the easiest way to start is just to note down the key bullet points of what you want to say or what the page needs to cover and if you want the reader to take action, what that action is (buy, call, subscribe, go to another page, get a quote etc).

Think about:

  • who
  • what
  • where
  • how
  • when
     

Fill in the Blanks

Once you’ve got the core information, start to fill in the blanks and flesh it out. I often find it’s easier to write as if you’re talking to a friend...it’s a more natural way to write and tends to flow better.

Don’t be afraid to edit as you go but don’t get bogged down either, it’s often better to just move on. You might find that it’s easier to reword it later or you might just lose that bit altogether. Writing also tends to get easier as you get into it.

Try to stick to one point per paragraph and use subheadings to give instant visual clues as to what the page is about.

The F Word

Actually it’s not really about a word – it’s about the letter. In a Jakob Neilsen study, they discovered that people tend to read or scan a page in an F shape. They read the heading or sub heading and some of the first paragraph, then they tend to scan to halfway across the page (the shorter bar of the F) and then, if they are interested, they scan down the left hand side.

So what does this mean to you?

It means you should put your main, most important information in that first paragraph and as mentioned above, use sub headings to provide visual clues as to what the content is about further down the page.

On that point, try to use headings rather than questions, for example:

“How do you roast your coffee beans?” would be better as “The Coffee Roasting Process”
“How do I pay online?” would be better as “Payment”

Erase and Rewind

If you haven’t been editing as you’ve been going along, it’s now time to start at the top and give it a good scrub. Well polished text reads effortlessly and engages the reader, even if the copy may be technical or heavy going.

Go through your text and be brutal...if it doesn’t add anything, take it out or rewrite it so it does. It often helps to read your website copy out loud. Keep editing until you think it’s right.

Check the spelling and grammar - don’t trust Word to do it for you!

 

In the next article I’ll go through 7 ways you can improve any website content, direct mail, email, sales pitch, brochure content etc.


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