So you’ve worked hard to get people to visit your website. You’ve been to every networking meeting possible, sent a cyber-tonne of emails, become a permanent status update, and tweeted so much you’ve got cats pawing at your windows! But how can you be sure people will stay on your site long enough to read all the good stuff?
This is how…
Keep It Simple, Stupid!
Actually it’s Keep It Short and Simple, but I prefer the first one.
Reading on a computer is harder than in print. It puts more strain on your eyes, it’s more tiring, and you’re more likely to switch off. So make sure it’s easy for your reader to get the information they’ve come looking for.
Would you rather this?
It would be prudent at all times, when the situation presents itself, to question the implications of any ill-fated decision to consume pallid flakes of precipitated crystalline ice.
Don’t eat yellow snow.
There’s no place for academic and technical mumbo jumbo here, so keep it simple, stupid!
- Cut out words that don’t need to be there
- Write how you speak
- Avoid business jargon unless it specifically appeals to your target audience
- Keep sentences short, preferably no more than 30 words
- Avoid being overly descriptive about your products / services
If your audience can’t find out what they want to, quickly and easily, it’s often quicker for them to look elsewhere. And they’ll stop looking as soon as they find a business that solves their problem the fastest.
If it isn’t clear to your audience at the beginning of your page who you are, what you do, and what benefit they’ll get, don’t expect them to stick around.
I recently visited a website to buy a cheap PC game key code. It wasn’t anyone I’d ever heard of, so I spent a bit of time making sure it was legit. But there was a very simple question (I thought) that it didn’t answer. Do I need the original disk? It could have answered my question very comfortably by saying “No need for the original disk, just download the game with the code from…” on its homepage, but it was overlooked.
Better still it had an FAQ section with a handful of stock FAQs that was neither use nor ornament. No, in fact, it was a useless ornament really.
What did I do? I went to another site. Customer lost.
- Make it clear what you do and how you benefit your audience in the opening section
- Build value in the rest of the copy on your site – you can’t get it all in at once
- Ask yourself all the questions your audience COULD ask and make sure you answer them
- Have a frequently asked questions section with ACTUAL QUESTIONS THAT ARE ASKED… FREQUENTLY!
Call to action
If you don’t tell your reader what to do next, how can you have any influence over what they’re going to do?
Your writing should be used to guide your audience to where they need to go next, and what they need to do. If you don’t, you run the risk of your audience hesitating and being unsure. And whenever that happens, there’s always a chance they’ll go elsewhere or lose focus on what they’re doing. Meaning they won’t take the action you want!
- Make your call to action stand out and be easily visible
- Only present one call to action
- Make it short and snappy
- Be original – it doesn’t have to just be `Call now on …`
Signposting is a simple idea. Just show your audience where they need to (or you’d like them to) go next. It’s a little different to your call to action, because signposting is about maintaining a flow and should be done throughout your copy.
It’s frustrating when you start following a sign on the road (usually because Sat and Nav fell out and stopped talking to each other) and the signs stop at the next junction. Without constant reminders of where you’re going and what you have to do to get there, there’s a chance you might take the wrong turning.
- In your first paragraph, define what the content is about
- Create a web of links throughout your site for suggestions of what to read next
- Don’t use `click here` as a link – use the title of the page subtly in a flowing sentence as a link
- Signpost different audiences to the relevant section of your site (“Looking for a fairytale wedding dress?” or “Looking to become the Prom Queen?”)
- Use sub-headings to highlight the topic of each section
Use more gooder English
Not only is poor use of English a `confidence` barrier (should I buy from these guys if they can’t even be bothered to check what they publish?) but grammar, punctuation and spelling is there for a reason.
It makes things clearer!
Let’s look at a couple of examples:
Let’s eat, grandma.
Let’s eat grandma.
In this example, Grandma goes from having dinner, to being dinner!
My heroes are my parents, Superman and Wonder Woman.
My heroes are my parents, Superman, and Wonder Woman.
In this example we go from a cool kid with rock ‘ard parents, to a normal everyday kid that sits in his room reading Marvel comics all day.
Now in both cases it’s just a comma. Correct. But the meaning is massively different with such a tiny change. And it’s so easy to completely miss your target audience by creating the wrong message, which in turn can prove costly for your business.
- Proofread what you’ve written, twice!
- Make sure you know how to use all basic punctuation, or you know someone you can ask to find out
- Avoid complex sentences that need more complex use of punctuation – more chance of mistakes, and more chance of it being too long to read easily
- If you don’t know how to do something, Popular-Search-Engine it!
So what next?
Break down some barriers!
It may have been a while since you sat down and looked at your own website. So put some time aside to look at each of your pages in turn, and ask yourself the following questions:
- Could I put across my information more simply?
- Is it clear from the beginning who we are, what we do and how we benefit our customers?
- Is there clear action I want my audience to take?
- Does my copy guide people to other sections of my site?
- Is it grammatically sound with no mistakes or punctuation errors?
If it isn’t perfect, change it. And if you need help changing it, give me a call.