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If you’re currently planning content for a website, or will be soon, this episode is for you.
I’ve been creating digital content and working on websites for the past seven years. Websites have changed a lot over that time, and trends come and go. But today I want to talk about three things that will always be problematic in website copy, if you want to have a clear and strategic website.
Keep on the look out for these.
Copy that is…
Lengthy or too Short
Have you ever been searching for an answer to a question, clicked on a link, seen a wall of text, and immediately clicked off? ‘Too much work’ we think, and we move on to find something more succinct. When a user is on your website, they’re looking for something. Looking to learn more about you, what you do, more about your product. Even if they are just curious, they’re asking questions in their head and looking for an answer. If you overwhelm them with copy, they won’t stick around to find the answer, it’s simply too much work.
On the opposite side of that is too little copy, not enough to properly answer a question or communicate. If there’s not enough information, people are left confused and equally will leave because it’s too much work to dig through underdeveloped pages of copy to find what they’re looking for.
Knowing your audience when developing your copy is helpful in so many ways, including to help you decide on length. Do your audience favour brevity above all? Or are they leisurely readers, who want to soak up essays with long, lovingly crafted descriptions? You want to divulge just the right amount of information to communicate what you need to, to the people you need to.
My advice is to start long with everything you can think of to get across your point, and then edit it down from there to the right length.
Your copy should be organised well. It should make sense to your visitors. Think of your website as your home on the internet. When a visitor arrives they wouldn’t expect to open the front door and walk straight into your loo or pantry. They’d expect to cross the threshold into a nice warm kitchen or entryway, then follow through to a living space, and move through accordingly. While your website design is a major factor in this user journey, your web copy can go a long way in guiding users too. If it is organised in a way that makes sense, users will feel at ease and welcomed in. Take your users on a journey down the page.
While it’s important to take users on a journey down the page, we also want visitors to be able to jump into the content that interests them and then jump back out to digest or explore more. This is a common practice for website users: scan the page, find what they need, read, and then go from there. If they aren’t able to do this, it’s very likely they will leave our website, quite possibly frustrated, and look somewhere else.
To help them jump into your content, it needs a clear structure, a clear hierarchy. What does this look like? This looks like quick to read headings that make sense of the copy they’re related to. It may also mean highlighted pieces of text or subheadings that explain the longer form text in a brief way. It’s also useful to think about how images can be used in the hierarchy to explain your copy visually. All of these things help website users to find what they need quickly and easily. And this means a smoother experience for your user through your content. In other words, a more relaxed and happier website user. A happier user is more likely to stick around on your website, making them more likely to purchase, to follow, to sign up, to book a call.
So if you’re planning new content or considering revamping yours, take these things into consideration.