Savvy Speaks: Web Copywriting Best Practices

Savvy Speaks: Web Copywriting Best Practices
Savvy Sisters - Wed Jun 08, 2011 @ 06:00AM
Comments: 24

Everyone has a website these days. Some of them really catch your attention, while others make you click away faster than a speeding bullet. What makes the difference? The Savvy Sisters give you some of their best web copywriting strategies:


Wendy Thomas


Keep it Clean

You don't need loud noises, flashy animation, and pop-ups to get attention. Your website should not rival the local summer carnival down the street. (unless of course you are a website for said carnival) 

Instead try using restraint. Focus on the message and task at hand. Leave the person who pops up from your website to tell about a program to kids television where he belongs and instead use excellent graphics, photos, and a creative, inviting, and grownup approach.   



Use Language that Connects

Too many companies get wrapped up in their product or industry jargon (see this post Michele wrote on "Gobbledygook). Instead, adopt an outside-in perspective and explain what you do and how you help companies in terms that your prospects and customers use on a daily basis.

A good way to test how easy -- or difficult -- your site copy is to comprehend? Ask someone unrelated to your company and industry to click through it. Then ask them what you do, how you do it, and what benefits you deliver. If they can't answer those questions, you need to start over.



Keep the Big Picture Experience in Mind

My agency work on large-scale website projects taught me a lot about IA and UI - Information Architecture and User Interface ... basically, the structure behind your site and the experience it's meant to create. 

Before writing any website copy, I always start with an analysis of the overall site structure (navigation, pages, paths, etc) and the experience (how will the visitor most likely interact with the site). These elements are like rooms, hallways, and stairs in our virtual office.

Once I have a good sense of the basic layout, I overlay the goals for the website - what we want visitors to do. Only with these key pieces of information in place,  can I make strong recommendations about how to "organize and decorate" the rooms. 



Put your best foot forward

Your home page should include:

1) What you do

2) Why you do it better than anyone else (your value proposition)

3) Clear navigation links to get more information or get in touch with a representative

And not much else!

Keep it simple and keep readers focused where you want them to go. Too much extraneous information and they get confused, too little and they don't get it and go away.



Look at the Science of Heat Maps

Web reading isn't like book or magazine reading.  The sooner marketers embrace that the better their webcopy will be.  The best web copy in the whole world won't be read if is buried below the "fold" on a standard browser.  I wrote a post a few years ago that covered the science of understanding heat maps and the way peoples eyes track across the average web page.  That post can be found here.

I have used the guidance from the study quoted in my blog post over the past two years with my clients to great success.  Ideas like make your fonts smaller if you want them to be read and not scanned seem somewhat counterintuitive but I believe they work!


What are your best practices for web copy?

Share them here!

Comments: 24


1. Doug Kessler  |  my website   |   Wed Jun 08, 2011 @ 08:17AM

Nice one. I'd just say: clear thoughts expressed in plain English.
Speak directly to the reader about their concerns and their challenges.

2. Jason Ball  |  my website   |   Wed Jun 08, 2011 @ 08:30AM

Echoing Kate's point – before you write anything, have a crystal clear idea of what you want your readers to do next.

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