When it comes to copywriting tips, sometimes less is more. I found this excellent, and very short, list from an excellent article on website planning over at Smashing Magazine, and thought it’d be great to share with you, since most people’s writing skills were developed in the world of academia, not the real world, and definitely not the online world.
Consider your audience and write accordingly. Try to see the business from the customer’s perspective. What do they care about?
Avoid business-speak, confusing acronyms and dry details. Your customers do not work at your shop, office or widget factory; they are the ones purchasing your products or services. Speak to them accordingly. When appropriate, write in generalities, and save the hardcore details for multi-page PDFs (as downloads). This approach is especially useful for product information, white papers and copy that approaches or exceeds 1000 words.
Here is a useful approach when writing for the Web:
- Write your first draft,
- Cut it in half,
- Cut it in half again,
- Add bulleted and numbered lists where possible,
- Send it to the editor. (Ed’s note: Or, hit ‘Publish’.)
Reading on a screen is fatiguing. A screen, whether a massive 26-inch monitor or a diminutive smartphone, projects tiny points of light at your eyes. Consequently, reading long stretches of text on it can be very tiring. Users will scan for key points in the text, so short blocks of copy and bulleted or numbered lists are helpful because they’re easy to spot.
Don’t style the content. Most writers prefer to work in Microsoft Word or a similar program. This is fine, but Word is notorious for outputting messy code. Don’t worry about colors, fonts and alignment. Just write well. Style will be applied later at the level of each Web page.
Update: Here’s another article (a bit longer this time) that always has some fantastic copywriting instructions.
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