Writing for the web is vastly different than writing for other media. The constant flow of instant information means your competition is always just a click away. Whether it’s for a site, email or blog, here are 5 tips to help you create clean, crisp web copy so your audience stays with you and keeps asking for more.
1. Write For Scanning Instead Of Reading
People don’t read on the web. They scan. You’re scanning this article right now, aren’t you? I know you’re busy and want to see if reading the whole post is worth your time. That’s why each tip is numbered and in bold text. It helps you scan better. Bullet points also help text scanning by:
- Breaking up text blocks
- Adding white space
- Providing contrast
2. Spell Check and Grammar Check
I cringe whenever I see a typo on the front page of the New York Times. Lately it seems to happen almost every day. As copywriters we have a professional responsibility to check spelling, grammar, and facts before we publish. Sure, I’ve had my share of typos in occasional emails, but my client work always goes through a spelling and grammar check before release. With word processing software like Microsoft Word it’s just common sense. So please take an extra minute and use these simple tools.
3. Keep It Conversational
Write like you talk. How many times have you read corporate web pages that sounded corporate? Did it make you feel a little distant from the company? If you want to reach your readers, you need to clearly communicate with them in a way they can understand. A clear, conversational approach is your best bet. Don’t alienate them with marketing speak, giant vocabulary words or jargon. Read your draft out loud and see if it makes sense to you. You’ll be amazed how this one simple exercise will help you find edits you might otherwise miss.
4. Cut It In Half – Then Half Again
I learned this tip from Steve Krug’s great book, Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach To Web Usability (2nd Edition). Every word has to have a purpose. If it doesn’t, delete it. Now.
5. Provide A Clear Call To Action
What do you want your audience to do when they’re done reading your stuff? Click away and never come back? Of course not! You probably want them to buy something, sign up for future communications, give you some information, or come back to your site when it’s updated. Let your readers know what to do next by giving them a clear call to action. Here’s mine for this post:
What do you think are the 5 most important tips for web copywriting? Were these helpful? Let me know in the comments. Here’s to happy clients and snappy copy.
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