The Write Stuff June 2017 Volume 13 Issue 6

Does Your Website Need a Refresh?

This piece celebrates the launch of my refreshed website. I did a total overhaul, design and content, but I find most people think “look and feel” when updating their websites — and they might plop the same, tired copy into a new design. Obviously, looks matter, but if the message is stale, all the digital sizzle in the world won’t make a difference.

Dan Brotzel, co-founder and content director of Sticky Content, cited three questions to have front of mind when refreshing website copy. While the questions are his, the answers are primarily mine.

1. Do I know what I’m doing? You might think “of course” — but does your website copy reflect your clear sense of purpose and focus? When I begin working with clients on website copy, I ask them what their messages are and who their audience is. You need to have crystal clear answers to those questions before you write anything.

2. Am I making life as easy as possible for my users? This has to do with effort. It’s no secret people have ever-shortening attention spans, so when they arrive at a website page that overwhelms them with copy, they’ll mentally weigh the effort required to read it versus the potential reward. Your copy should be succinct and structured to make it easy to read — or even scan — and it should focus on benefits rather than features.

3. Is the language fresh? Many business writers rely on cliches instead of creating original copy — to their detriment. If your website visitors are seeing the same tired phrases over and over, they cease to have meaning for them. A popular cliche right now is “disruptive.” How many times have you heard someone use that word to describe their product or service? It probably makes your eyes glaze over.

Here’s some homework: take a critical look at your website to see if it seems stale. I know mine was — so I did something about it. You can, too.

Include Misuse
“I’ve had three dogs in my life, including two named Paxton and my current lovable roommate, Cubbie.” See anything wrong with that sentence? Maybe the title gave it away! Including is not correct when you are noting all the options — in this case, dogs. The rewrite? “I’ve had three dogs in my life, two named Paxton and my current lovable roommate, Cubbie.”

Look No Further
I had to look up the definitions of farther and further the other day — and what I learned will ensure I never have to do it again. I hope this helps you, too. Farther relates to physical distance, while further is used in cases of metaphorical or figurative distance. An easy way to remember which to use is that farther starts with far — which obviously relates to physical distance.
Published On: June 15th, 2017 / Categories: 2017 /

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