The hardest part of my job as a web designer, without a doubt and across the board, is getting content from my clients. It is said, “Content is King”, and this is true even more so on the web. Content on your website should be informative, timely and concise (saying the most in the least amount of words).
Once the content is provided, it is my job as the designer to make it readable, fast loading, easy to navigate, and easy to find for the user and search engines. But its the client’s job to write up good content that conveys the purpose of their business, the variety of services they offer, their philosophy or mission statement, and why the reader should choose their service/product. Also, its a great idea to write a quick bio of yourself or your business, if your industry encourages more than the usual brand knowledge.
Here are Few Guidelines when Writing Web Content and How to Beat the Block:
- Sell yourself, your service or your product! Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and try to write content as if you are trying to convince yourself to buy, register, or request your own service. What makes your product special? What would make you buy your own product/service?
- Keep your content short and sweet. On the web, people like to get the information fast and in an organized, easy to read fashion. If the user sees a page full of boring written text, be assured that most of the users will move on. Keep their interest from the start, avoid being too wordy, and never drag out your sales pitch. Introduce your product/service, and if they want more information, give them a way to contact you through a form or an email link.
- Provide content that is broken up into short paragraphs and short pages. People are much more able to digest content faster if the information is given to them in short bursts instead of long clumps of text.
- Use words or phrases in your content that people will search for. For search engine optimization, make sure to include these words in your titles, subheadings, links, and in the body of your text.
- Write your own content. It’s a great idea, and perfectly acceptable, to get inspiration from similar industries, or even your competitors on how to present your product/service, but then write your own content in your own words. That way the content will reflect your message, your personality and your values, rather than infringing on other’s copyright.
- Write your content specific for the web. Use shorter sentences, use one idea per paragraph, simply your verbiage (half the word count or less is standard for the web compared to writing for print), use simple words, avoid exaggerated claims, use bulleted lists, and break up the text with meaningful headlines or subheadings.
- Remember, web surfers don’t like to read. You have 10 seconds to grab the attention with your web design, and 55 seconds to convey the purpose of your company or product. Reading on the web is more work than reading print, so web readers usually scan text so using headings, highlighted text and lists are also a great idea.
- Now it’s time to write. Find a quiet place to write, after a good night’s sleep and healthy meal, and relax. Shut off distractions like Facebook, Twitter, your cell phone, the TV, etc. And don’t panic. Writer’s can get so stressed out over the end product that they never begin to work on their content in the first place. Jot down ideas of what you want to present, make an outline (even by the pages of your website), and put whatever comes into your head on paper (or pc).
- Take a Breather. A few minutes to step away, stretching, getting a drink of water all help unlock a temporary writer’s block. A change of scenery, fresh air, a different task or some quiet meditation all help. Simply getting up from your desk or writing area for a temporary break can sometimes be just the thing to knock you out of your slump. After time, return to your content and review the first draft. As needed, mold, edit and revise your content until it makes sense and clearly tells your story.
- Proof your work. Use a spell-checker or have someone else review your content for correct grammar, spelling, punctuation and good sentence structure. It may be a good idea to employ the services of a professional writer to make a great first impression.