When you think about the answer to that question, you’re probably thinking about the look, the design, and the colors.
But what about the words?
The best-designed website is a waste of time and money if your copy doesn’t tell the reader about your unique selling proposition (USP) and how it fits their needs. Too many organizations invest in the look and feel of the site and ignore the copy.
Here are five things you must know about website copywriting:
- Bullet points have a greater chance of being read than paragraphs. Big words and verbose corporatespeak will lose your reader quickly. Get rid of the jargon. Don’t just paste copy you’ve already written for your brochure, annual report, or other publication. Craft it especially for the Web.
- Write top down. Things move fast on the Internet. Your content must be scannable. If you describe your services in 18 paragraphs, you’ll probably be the only one reading. Put the most important points first, so that your reader will get the main idea before they click away or get distracted.
- Write about benefits, not features. Ask yourself, “So, what?” from the point of view of your reader. The unique and innovative design of your widget is meaningless unless the reader understands what the widget will do for them.
- Consider style. Professional copy is consistent. Use a stylebook, preferably the AP Stylebook, for Web and marketing copy. Ensure that you consult the stylebook for answers on questions of punctuation, capitalization, hyphenation and other grammatical elements.
- Mind your grammar. If you’re unsure about which its/it’s to use, consider hiring an editor.* Nothing destroys confidence in your professionalism like grammar, style, and spelling errors. It may be well worth your investment to avoid embarrassing miscues.
Although the pictures, colors, and layouts are much sexier and more fun to play around with, don’t lose sight of the importance of the words.
What if you had the opportunity to tell the entire world about what you have to offer? You would prepare thoroughly, consider each word, and select your speaker with care to represent you well.
The fact is, you do have the opportunity to share with the world; the Internet is everywhere. Your words represent you — choose them with care.
*Disclosure. I offer editing services; if you’re smart, you’ll run your copy by me, but this post is not intended in any way to coerce, cajole, or force you to do so.