5 Keys to Writing Great Web Copy

Weve seen it all: the good, the bad and the achingly terrible. Writing anything, especially your own copy is one of the hardest things to do for most people. Its the thing that blows our timelines all the time and the thing that seems to scoot down the to-do list again and again. Weve changed how we work a little to get ahead of this, but we see the same issues pop up all the time.

Here are a few strategies to keep in mind when you attempt to write your own web content.

Be a good writer

This is an obvious point but one that involves the most self-examination. Writing all of the content for a website is a lot of work that will take a considerable amount of time. Also, the content on your site conveys the majority of information to users so it needs to be used wisely. Before you decide to take on the role of web content writer consider if you will actually be good at it, is it something you can dedicate hours upon hours to, and are you familiar with how to move the reader through pages and provide directive text? If the answer to any of these is No then hire a professional who has experience writing for the web. The number of people who think they can write may be on par with the number of people who think they are funny its a statistical impossibility. And thats just simple math.

Be concise yet clear: Syntax and word choice

Especially with mission driven organizations it is critical to take complex ideas and applications and distill them down to their most important points. Blocks of text should be in chunklets (even chunks are too big) ideally around five lines, less is better, more than ten is longwinded. Every word on the page is important real estate so make each one as important as possible.

Make paragraphs digestible yet informative: Language and audience

Use language that is smart yet accessible to communicate with experienced and new users of your site. This doesnt mean you have to avoid the technical terms that some of your experienced users will expect, but provide enough organic context so that new users know what your explaining.

Do some keyword research first

Before you start writing you need a list of common keywords that your audience uses in search engines to find your organization or others in your field. Generate a separate list within the organization to gain insight on self-identification or technical keywords. Incorporating these throughout the content will help with SEO while making you sound consistent and smart. If you dont have a huge budget to hire a writer, hire an SEO specialist to at least create this keyword list.

Have a strategy for your content

This is hugely important! Where your content lives on the site is a big piece of your users find the information they are looking for where they expect it. We start with goals: big ones, organizational ones, marketing ones, and page-specific ones.

Then we start grouping chunks of the site together based on who reads it and what it contains. We write the biggest, hardest parts first, and make sure we see the content in the context of a page or prototype. So much changes when you get copy on a page, so remember to be flexible and willing to revise or move things around. If your goals are solid, that should be easy.

What have you found that works or doesnt? Please share!

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