When writing for your website, as in all types of writing, it’s essential to keep your audience in mind.
Think of why readers are coming to your site. Are they looking for the types of services you offer or trying to find your physical location so they can visit? Maybe they are considering hiring you for a service and want to see samples of your work or perhaps they’re looking to see your clients list and to read the testimonials others have given your company.
After determining the top reasons why someone might visit your website, your next job is to make the things your customers or clients are looking for easy to locate. This will determine how you divide information into pages, how you arrange the information on each page, and how you link to other information.
These needs should already have been addressed in the design phase, but if your website has already been created and these things weren’t considered, now is the time to think about them. Great writing won’t do your website any good if it’s difficult to navigate or the information is not arranged logically.
Once you’ve considered all of the above, and you’re getting into the nitty-gritty of writing the actual content for your site, don’t forget that many people visit your website because they are looking for a specific piece of information and not because they want to read through a lot of material. I know that I’m repeating myself here, but at Commonwealth PR we feel like this cannot be emphasized enough.
When breaking down the material that you plan to include on a single web page and actually writing the content, follow these tips:
- Break content into short manageable sections or paragraphs. These are easier to read.
- Use headings or sub-headings to capture what’s in each section. A visitor to needs to be able to quickly scan these to find the general location of the information they need.
- Use bulleted lists when possible. These are easier to scan and can be read faster than thick paragraphs.
- When you have to use paragraphs, keep them short and to the point.
- Use acronyms sparingly. There may be times when you need to use acronyms or terms specific to your industry, but don’t assume that everyone who visits your site will know what they mean. A good practice is to spell out the word(s) the first time used on each page, followed by the acronym in parentheses. Then in subsequent uses on the same page, just use the acronym since you’ve already explained what it means.
- Save the details for separate pages. In other words, if you need to provide extra details to clearly explain something, mention this topic in your paragraph. Then hyperlink to the additional information that explains or gives more details about the topic. Store the additional information on a separate web page, which may or may not be searchable. This way the fine details don’t bog down the paragraph, but if a reader wants more details, the information is there for them. All they have to do is click on a link.
- Don’t include too much information on a single web page. Remember that only so much information can be viewed on a screen. A reader must then scroll down to see the rest of the page if it’s lengthy. Try to prevent this by creating additional pages and by keeping all pages fairly short.
- Capture the nature of your business in the language and writing style. Use words that capture the brand, purpose or culture of your business when possible. For example, if you run an adventure travel business, try to use words that capture the excitement and thrills that you offer your clients.
- Last but not least, absolutely nothing can make up for good grammar, spelling and proper word usage. Nothing makes your website, and even your business, seem unprofessional as bad writing does. Your specialty may be interior decorating and you may be excellent at it, but a potential client may think otherwise if the writing on your website is riddled with mistakes. Therefore, if writing is not your best skill, find a friend or employee who is good at it to help you or consider hiring a writing professional.
Just like making a first impression is very important at a job interview or when initially meeting someone, remember that your website may be the first and only chance you have to make a good impression on a potential client or customer.