Writing for the web is different than writing for print. Visitors scan web pages, rather than reading entire paragraphs. Always provide information that will empower your visitors and help them make an informed buying decision.
Great content gives the visitor exactly what they want from your website – information – and that information can empower your visitor to make a informed buying decision. A website with great content will also become more attractive to search engines like Google – boosting you higher to the first page.
But most websites don’t have good content and writing for the web is a lot different than writing for print. Here are a few reasons why websites fail and what to do about it:
Visitors don’t read.
Few people read everything on your web page. They may skip over your important information. Why is this? Because people’s attention spans are lower these days and so is their patience. They want to find what they’re looking for as quickly as possible. That’s why viewers scan over pages instead of reading each and every line.
Visitors are pressed for time.
Viewers will most likely avoid spending all their time searching for information on one website. Thus, if your information isn’t properly placed, the viewer might have to read through a large paragraph to find what they need. In most cases, the visitor will move to the next site – because they just don’t have the time.
The main goal is to find information.
So it’s important to place important information first (at the top of the page – make it stand out). Use larger headings. Next, summarize your information; instead of writing a long page or large paragraph, break up large paragraphs into smaller ones using colored or bold sub-headings to start them off. Use bullets and numbered lists when stating facts.
If you have large amounts of text, space-out the lines. Start the paragraph with the most important point and then expand on this for the rest of the paragraph. If the first line doesn’t interest the reader, they may skip the rest of the paragraph. Give answers before explanations, give summaries before details and give conclusions before discussions. Always keep your information short and to the point.
Writing Informative Content
Your customers need to feel empowered. Visitors need clear, to-the-point information – answers to the questions they may have about your company and its services or products. This helps them make an informed buying decision.
Think about the information your audience wants to know and then write about it. Visitors will want answers to questions like these:
- What does your company do?
Make it plain and simple on the homepage. It shouldn’t take no more than a few lines of text to explain this. Next is the more important part:
- What will your company do for me?
List the benefits from the greatest to the least. Make it plain and simple. This is what everyone wants to know.
- How are you better than your competitors?
Why should I choose you? How are your different? List some of reasons or even do a comparison chart.
- What are your services?
Give a brief description for each service you provide. As said before: keep the information plain and simple – in a short paragraph. Afterward, you can expound into further detail.
- Can I trust you?
One of the biggest questions when dealing with the Internet – add some client testimonies, BBB ratings and other information that builds credibility. When receiving Social Security and Credit Card information through your website, you will need to purchase a SSL certificate.
A certificate secures your site from any data that could be stolen during a form transfer. When dealing with sensitive information, that little lock icon and the “https” in the address bar brings a sense of relief as the visitor knows their information is safe.
- How do I reach you?
List an e-mail, your location (if only the city & state) and especially a phone number. People need to know they can reach a live person if they need too.
- How much does it cost?
You do not have to list your prices all the time, but if this is a frequent question, list some examples and the general cost for each.
- Create a FAQ page:
A Frequently Asked Question page helps cut down phone time – answering the same questions over-and-over again.
Visitors don’t care too much about your company’s vision or mission statementor even its history. While this information is important, this shouldn’t be the first thing the visitor sees. The potential buyer is more concerned about their own needs, tell them how you can satisfy their needs.
Following these steps will make your website easier to read and will definitely help your visitors make an informed buying decision. Most websites don’t do this and so you’ll be one step ahead of the game.
One of the most difficult parts of my job, in the past, was getting the content from some of my clients on time. So, what we do today is give our clients up to 2 weeks to create and edit the content for their website, before we actually start. We believe this is a reasonable time to write the general need-to-know information for their website.