A funny thing comes over some businesses when they start putting together their web copy. Rather like having a posh ‘telephone voice’, they write about themselves in an artificially ‘proper’ way.
Instead of saying ‘we run coaching workshops for new businesses’, they’ll write ‘we facilitate training sessions to leverage success for business.’
It’s a bit like having Hyacinth Bouquet answering your office phone. More than a little off putting.
When I’m writing web copy, I imagine I’m telling someone in the same room. My tone is conversational. I use the same words to explain something that I’d use if you were sitting next to me. Good web copy makes a connection with its reader. Lacing your sentences with unnecessarily long words puts your readers at a distance, and that’s not where you want them.
Sometimes I think it’s a confidence thing. People don’t feel they’ll be taken seriously if they talk in everyday language. Big words are good for hiding behind. My advice would be to take a deep breath, and just tell it how it is.
My top six web writing tips
1. Be clear. Say it out loud before you write it down.
2. Use short sentences. They’re easier to understand.
3. Keep technical language to a minimum. Of course some pages demand it – especially if your offer is a technical one. But your Home page and About Us copy should certainly be straightforward.
4. Be accurate. A conversational tone doesn’t mean you can forget your grammar. Good grammar makes your writing make sense.
5. Get to the point. There’s no room for rambling digressions in web copy. Users want information fast, so cut anything superfluous and give important stuff room to breathe.
6. Be yourself. Connect with your reader.
Anything I’ve missed? I hope the list is useful.
[For younger readers, here is Hyacinth in action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsZGHxb4caA]