Website Writing Guide

The Art & Science of Creating Content That Produces Results

We know that visitors...

Form opinions very quickly.

It takes about 50 milliseconds (that’s 0.05 seconds) for users to form an opinion about your website that determines whether they like your site or not, whether they’ll stay or leave.

Scan text way more than they read.

Visitors spend an average of 5.59 seconds looking at a website’s written copy  

...and on average only read 20% of a page's content!

Often only visit only a few pages on a site.

More than 4 pages viewed per visit would put you in the best 20% of sites, and more than 5.3 would put you in the best 10%.

If you want even more proof of how important content strategy and layout is, then we have a slew of stats just for you...

57% of internet users say they won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed website on mobile.

 

38% of people will stop engaging with a website if the content or layout are unattractive.

 

88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience.

 

75% of consumers admit to making judgements on a company’s credibility based on the company’s website design.

 

It takes 2.6 seconds for a user’s eyes to land on the area of a website that most influences their first impression.

 

Users spend an average of 5.94 seconds looking at a website’s main image.

 

Three quarters (74%) of web users pay attention to the quality of spelling and grammar on company websites.

 

Best Practices for Writing Web Copy

#1

Make Text Scannable.

Be concise. Be relevant. 

If you have 6 paragraphs, the likelihood of a visitor reading the last couple paragraphs is very small.

  • Use short sentences and action verbs.

  • Cut inessential text without sacrificing your identity.

  • Highlight essential words.

  • Use bulleted lists to draw out information.

 

Studies have shown that people read in an “F-Pattern”, so utilize that layout as a great rule of thumb.

TYPICAL PARAGRAPH STYLE

MY MAIN HEADLINE HERE

In this side we use a lot more text to talk about our points as paragraphs. Usually we try to get several main points across here and then will talk about more later.

What we need to remember is that people do not read and probably stopped doing so in the paragraph above.

Most likely they are trying to scan this text right now, but have to do so by picking out random words and stopping if they seem important to them.

The majority of the world will never even read this last paragraph because they were only scanning the page or if they started to read this chunk of text only made it through the first few sentences. Hope you didn't have an important point here.

"F-PATTERN" STYLE

MY MAIN HEADLINE HERE

A QUICK ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY
OF THE TEXT BELOW.

People get overwhelmed by chunks of text, but like scannable structures.

  • The first point of my scannable list.
  • This is a second point of my scannable list.
  • Or bold important words to increase scanning.
  • A brief summary.  And then add more than one line of text to your point.
  • The last point of my scannable list.

A final summary and closing statement..

#2

Balance creativity with instant comprehension.

Brands need a voice, but even the most beautiful voice is meaningless if you don't get what it's saying.

If you want to be more creative, make sure that text is sandwiched in between simple, straight-forward language.

WOULD YOU KNOW WHAT THEY DO?

Redefine success through unparalleled strategic insight.

COMPREHENSION-FIRST

Strategic consulting and unparalleled insight to redefine success.

ADD PRE-LINES WITH CREATIVE TEXT FOR COMPREHENSION

Strategic Consulting

Redefine success through unparalleled insight.

#3

Prioritize your words.

Studies show that the first 20 - 30 characters - yes, we said characters - of a sentence determine if someone will read the sentence.

Starting a headline or sentence with enticing or interest driving words and phrases will improve the likelihood of reading.

DOESN'T SEEM WORTH MY TIME

We are noticeably different because our team is comprised of top experts.

I HAVE TO READ THIS

No Comparison. Our industry-leading expert team always delivers. 

#4

Short sentences work best.

Studies show that when average sentence length is 14 words, readers understand more than 90% of what they are reading.

At 43 words, comprehension drops to less than 10%.

Long, complicated sentences force users to slow down and work harder to understand what they are reading.

This is not something people want to do, even if they are familiar with the subject.

Similar research from the American Press Institute shows readers find sentences of 8 words or less very easy to read; 11 words, easy; 14 words fairly easy; 17 words standard; 21 words fairly difficult; 25 words difficult and 29 words or more, very difficult.

#5

Write For Your Audience, Not You!

I repeat, you are not your audience.

Even the most experienced members of your team do not not know exactly what prospects are thinking. Add in changing economics, competitors, industry shifts, culture shifts and prospect generation changes you may be way out of your element.

As you write, it is important to try and think in the shoes of a person who doesn’t know your company and in many cases may not know your industry or competitors.

This is almost the most important tip, because it is easy to use our knowledge and daily industry obsession as a crutch to think we are creating great content.

#6

Separate Marketing From Sales Language

A website is to entice and convert, not close the deal.

Unless you are an ecommerce site, often your goal is just to move someone to the next stage of the process.

If you are services, you want them to become a lead for sales. If they are software, you want them to demo.

When writing, do not try to provide every detail. Often when companies write their own content, their drive is to want to explain everything and not miss any detail.

Most website writing is about marketing - short and sweet to entice people to take action.

Stop trying to say everything.

#7

Use Jargon Only When You Know Your Audience Will Respect It

As dope as it may be, be careful about UANOU.

You know what you are talking about, but that doesn’t mean that your visitors do - using too much industry jargon or acronyms just confuses interested prospects.

Slang may fit your culture and brand voice, but also has the possibility of dating your company or coming of disingenuous if it does not match your brand - so be careful.

In some cases Jargon and acronyms can prove your knowledge, but be cautious with its over use.

 

UANOU: Using Acronyms No One Understands