***This article was originally published in the August issue of my e-newsletter, The Evolving Web Site. To subscribe to this free e-newsleter, use the yellow sign-up box to the right of this blog posting.***
In my last newsletter, I shared many tips for effective web writing and effective copy design. If you missed that issue, you can view it now. This month, I will continue the discussion of what you can do to make your site more readable. Why should you care? Because a more readable site ultimately means more customer and client conversions for you!
So here are August’s Top 10 Tips for effective web site writing.
1. Use the active voice. Now, you may often hear that … but what exactly does it mean? A good example is: “Lucy walked her dog” (active) vs. “The dog was walked by Lucy” (passive). In the active voice the subject performs the action, instead of the subject being acted upon. The active voice is stronger and makes for a more powerful, less wordy sentence.
2. Use attention grabing headlines. A great provocative headline will draw your readers in . A dull or (gulp!) absent headline will most likely cost you readers … click! Writing effect headlines is an art in itself. (Watch for some helpful tips for headline writing in the next issue of this newsletter.)
3. Keep your pages short. Especially your Home Page. Do not let your Home Page scroll on and on. People prefer to read shorter pages that have links to other shorter pages. If you can keep your Home Page under 300 words you are on the right track.
4. Tell people the benefits of your product or service. Your web site readers will find the details for themselves. But they need to be told the benefits up front. After all, it is the benefits that sell! (Never expect the readers to figure out the benefits for themselves … no matter how obvious they may seem to you.)
5. Keep critical information “above the fold.” Many readers will never bother to scroll down on your web site. So keep important information up on top where it can be readily seen.
6. Minimize use of first and third person. Your readers dont want to hear too much about you. Avoid “I” and “we” and use “you” and “your.” (Yes, I did speak about this before. But it is so important it bears repeating.)
7. Don’t let your site become dated.Only keep current information on your Home Page. (ex. Don’t keep information on about a sale that was over one month ago.) If you don’t, people will begin to think of your site as outdated and not current. They may begin to question the validity of any information you present.
8. Let your site reflect you.Your site should be an extension of you, your ideas and your product or service. It should reflect your personality and the way you do business, much the way the decor in your store or office is an extension of your business or service.
9. Have impeccable spelling and grammar. Again, your web site is a reflection of you. Sloppy spelling mistakes and bad grammar will tell your reader that you are less than meticulous in your business dealings. Be sure to proofread your text before you send it into cyberspace! You may want to have someone else read what you write. This is a good sure-fire way to minimize mistakes and maximize clarity.
10. It’s not just what you say…but what your words look like! Use a font that is clean and easy to read. Gaudy fonts will not help your cause! And type that is too small for the average reader to view without straining his or her eyes should be avoided. You do not have a captive audience. Oops … click!
I hope you found August’s Top Ten List useful.