Let’s face it – a lot of web pages and web sites out there could use a little improvement in copywriting department!
From boring prose to bad sentence structure, from poor logic to inadequate copy optimization, I’ve seen it all. And this is what your customers are reading as they jump on to your site! If they have to sludge through bad writing, they will get a negative feeling about your product or service. Is this impression that you want them to have? Definitely not.
The bottom line is that bad copy means fewer sales. That’s how important it is. Don’t discount it. And one other point - an impressive site design can never rescue poor copy.
So what’s process that a copywriter goes through when they are re-writing a site? Good question. There are lots of different methods and approaches, but here’s what I look at when I first set my eyes on those broken letters and words:
1.The Copy Itself - What’s written? 2.The Copy and how it relates to design - How does it look on page? 3.Search Engine Friendly – Is copy optimized?
The Copy Itself – What’s Written?
The first thing that I look at when I’m analyzing a page of copy is copy itself. In this day and age, there really are two fundamental things that most people do when they are reading copy on a web site: First, they “scan” read – they don’t read every word. And second, it’s better comprehended when copy is written way people speak. Here are other things to look for when you’re analyzing copy:
Are bullets and lists utilized? The copy can’t be in standard block paragraphs like you see in books and magazines. Remember, you’re competing for their time. If they don’t get info they need fast, they’ll jump to next web site.
Is there too much copy on page? If you have more than 450 words per page, you have too much. How many times have you seen never-ending Home Page as you scroll forever to find where it ends? This technique only works for those cheesy direct sales letters you see on certain sites. And they only work sometimes.
Does copy grab you? Is it interesting and informative? Does it address your needs? And does copy have a rhythm to it? It should.
Is there variety in writing? Are all sentences long with multiple adjectives and adverbs? The goal is to combine short sentences with a few long ones. The trick is to make copy flow. Using fragments is not a bad thing. Quite contrary actually. The occasional fragment or sentence that starts with “But” or “And” can re-capture reader interest and keep it lively. Try it out. You’ll like it. And your customers will too! (See how effective it is?)
Are Headings and Sub headings utilized? If not, get them in there fast. You gotta have them there to break up page into digestible parts. It also helps eye focus. There are a ton of sites out there that have absolutely NO headings or sub headings. That’s a bad thing.
Are you using AIDA? Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. I’m sure you’ve heard it before: Grab reader’s attention, build interest, and create a desire so they will take action. Are you closing deal with your customer? This is ultimate goal of any copy. Make reader do something. Fill out a survey, submit a request, sign up for a service, or buy product. Whatever it is, you must have a call to action in copy.
The Copy and How it Relates to Design - How Does it look on page?
What good would copy be if it was placed on page in long lines and block paragraphs?
Not too good.
Recently, I was working on a Home Page re-write for a financial services company who was having a conversion problem. They had no issue getting people to site. They just couldn’t make them buy once they got there.
After taking a look at their site, I was struck with one startling reaction – copy was placed on page like it was a college essay with no variation or eye catching design elements integrated. Clearly, it was a web site template and no customization was used at all.
Their competitors Home Pages were very different. They all employed easy to read charts, testimonials, and other design elements. And my client had none of these. Obviously, something had to change, or his conversion rate would continue to suffer. Here are some of things you want to look for when you consider copy and how it relates to design:
Is there contrast in type of fonts, size of fonts, and colors that are used? Some of most eye-catching web sites use lots of contrasting fonts, with various sizes, and complimentary colors. This can only help copy, as it wraps it up in a great looking package and truly brings it to life. Here are three examples of great copy wrapped up in brilliant design: http://www.omniture.com/s2/index.html http://www.6smarketing.com/ http://www.zephoria.com/
Is copy broken up into readable/scanable sections? …or is it simply placed on page haphazardly without regard for needs of your customer? Like my example above, you need to ensure web page can be scanned in 30 seconds or less. Remember, we’re dealing with short attention spans.