How to Write for the Web
This is probably the most difficult part of a website for my clients. Even professional writers who do not normally write for the web have difficulty writing clean, simple, and engaging content. I believe writing for the web is difficult for two reasons.
- Fear our audience will miss something important because they can’t find it.
- Fear that a person is looking for X service and it is not listed in a big way on our website. (I also do X service. It’s not my main service, but what if the person is looking for X and it’s not listed on my site?)
We cannot let our fears keep us from reaching customers so many of us try to list and cover everything and bombard our audiences with a plethora of services and then highlight them with big–bold–italic–underline-ALL CAPS. This is not an efficient or engaging way to attract new clients. Our content is not only long it is difficult to read with so many things bolded or underlined or A LITTLE OF EVERYTHING!
With any marketing message, you have less than 2 seconds to capture your audience’s attention. Most people live in a world of distractions where attentions are divided between the real world and the digital world at all times. This makes our job even more difficult. The amount of marketing messaging has dramatically increased to where we are constantly bombarded with consumer information.
All you need to know
Keep content short and to the point for each major section. Tell them what they need to know and then get out of the way! (Even if that means, getting out of your way!)
Sub title (if needed) or short description
Call to action (buy, learn more, contact)
The call to action is where you can give more information to those who want to continue to explore your site and ultimately contact you! Your website is a selling tool and is an extension of you. Don’t rely on your website to do the selling. It is a powerful tool, but in the end you want people to have a great experience from your business — both online and in-person. This takes human interaction and ingenuity even if your content is delivered digitally.
The Content Wars
Organizing and drafting your website content is one of the most challenging tasks for my clients. This takes time and is a thoughtful processes. Time spent on your content is more valuable than your time spent learning how to design and build your own website. Too many of my clients get ahead of themselves and have great ideas for how the website should look without considering their audience or the functionality needed to showcase and highlight their main points of business.
It is essential for a site to be well organized for customer accessibility. Your potential customers should be able to find what they need within 2-3 seconds. The organization needs to be intuitive for the user and visually organized.
As a designer and developer, I use your basic content outline to estimate my design and consultation time. Having a good understanding of your audience, your products and services, and overall messaging before coming to a consultation will save you time and money.
Go with the flow…
In the web world, we call this a wireframe or a site map. Basically, it’s a good old flowchart. It can be high level, but start with the “pages”. (Even if you want a one-page design, there should still be some sort of main navigation. Break your one-page design into different sections to make your site easy to navigate.)
Typical pages are listed above. List the items you want to see under each heading.
|Slideshow of featured items||Company history||List of product/services||Products or Types of articles||Contact form|
|Introduction to company||Employee Bios||Address/phone Map|
|Social Media icons, search, site map|
But I love my content!
I hear this all the time from my clients and I get it! You love what you do and I love that you love what you do! Being the content expert doesn’t mean your website should show off that big brain of yours – at least not in its entirety! Don’t give it away for free! You want your audience to pay you for your knowledge, your services and expertise!
Novelists go through the same process, they have just written a novel of the century, but it’s 10times longer than War and Peace and now it’s time to edit, edit, and edit again … get your red pen and get ready!
Once you’ve written your content for each page, take a step back and look at it from your audience’s point of view. Don’t let your big brain get in the way! So often we want to tell our client’s how great we are and what we can do or our product can do to help them! We are so excited to tell them a benefit, benefit, benefit and here’s a feature, feature, feature… Our customers hear, yadda, yadda, yadda.
The web is a powerful interactive communication tool when used properly and is accessible to your audience. Through interactive elements and functionality, your website can be intriguing and tell a story – your story.
You may be the content expert and know more about your product and services than anyone, but you’re not a writer or may not have had a composition class since the 8th grade. The idea of writing a story seems like madness! Don’t worry, here are a few helpful hints to constructing your content to appeal to your audience.
Who are you?
What do you do different than your competitors?
Why should your audience care?
No matter what “page” you are writing, you should be answering one of the above questions. Keep in mind visuals will also help establish the answers to these questions. The look and feel can show your style and communicate a lot about you and your company. A good designer and developer will start with basic elements that define your business even before you start writing any content.
The statistic is sickening, but it is estimated that we consume over 9 DVD’s worth of information a day or 6.9 million (gigabytes) per day. (USC Marshall School of Business, SDSC Researcher, 2014). Out of all that information, you are expecting your potential client to visit your site, like what you do or sell, and contact you? Seem impossible? Where do you start?
Chunk out your information – think about how a newspaper is written (for those of us who still read newspapers!) or how news articles are supposed to be written. You’re opening paragraph should answer:
How (How much does it cost?)
(8th grade English ringing a bell yet?)
Expand information in the following paragraphs (1-2) (for those who’ve you peeked interest)
Avoid long lists and bulleted items. If you feel it’s essential to bullet, keep your list to no more than 3-4! (Phone numbers are separated by 3-4’s for a reason.)
Call to action – You want them to contact you!
Now it’s up to you to reel them in! They’ve contacted you and expressed interest in your business and who is better qualified to sell your business that you? The subject matter expert!
Welcome to Marketing Madness
I am sure you have uncovered a plethora of online resources and business tools from Constant Contact, Mail Chip, Pay Pal, facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn (and the rest of the social media madness), Google web tools, search engine optimization (SEO), Vista Print, WebEx, Join Me, ftp file sharing, Google Docs, Sharepoint… How do you ever find a way out and keep up with your website?
I believe in simplifying your marketing and communication efforts to be efficient and integrated so you get the most for your money! Again, you love what you do, let’s keep you doing what you do! Ask me for a free consultation on all things web and marketing related for your business! Contact me!