Let’s talk website content – again. If you read our last blog, you’re probably already sold on the benefits of a one-voice website. So let’s move a little deeper into the topic of website content by looking at two critical features for effective writing: clarity and persuasiveness.
Let’s start with clarity. Unless you strongly believe that visitors enjoy reading long, drawn out, copy-heavy sites – which I’m sure you don’t – when creating copy for your site, aim for simple and clear messaging. Here are some basic tips to ensure you’re keeping it clear:
- Aim for short sentences. A maximum of 18 words per sentence is a good guideline.
- Use common words. Leave the thesaurus alone.
- Write directly to the reader. Use words like you and your. It’s so much more personable.
- Expand on acronyms the first time you use them, and every time you use them on a new page.
- Use bulleted lists whenever possible.
- Avoid wordiness. Think of the KISS theory and keep it simple. (I’m not going to call you stupid.)
- Use short descriptive headings to clearly describe the content of each section.
- Make link text descriptive. Rather than click here, write an accurate description of what will be found at the link.
Now that you’ve grabbed your reader with clear, simple, easy-to-navigate content, how will you persuade them to stay engaged with your site?
First, understand that your site content, no matter how creative and savvy, will be scanned, not read. Just accept it. Site visitors are on the hunt for information and they’re in a hurry. But you’ve already made their hunt easier by offering up clear, concise content, right? Right! Succinct headings, imagery that relates to the copy, and bulleted lists appeal to scanners.
Next, expect that people will NOT read your home page before clicking elsewhere. Like a falling leaf, they could land just about anywhere. Each page should be a clear collection of content based on one topic. Clear navigation and well divided content satisfies every reader.
Be a little top heavy. Place your most important information close to the top of each page. Here’s what most visitors are thinking as they scan your site: What do you do? What’s in it for me? What will I find on this page?
To persuade visitors to stay where they are, remember – you can’t possibly be everything to everybody. Just be yourself. Say who you are, what you do, and why clients and customers want to stick around.