Published: 13/07/2018

How to write clearly for the web

These days it's essential for any business to have a website. It is now considered the norm to have some kind of online presence whether you are a B2B technology provider or a florist down the road. Even if you aren’t selling your product directly from your site, it is still essential that you have a website - particularly if you want to be visible to search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. So even having a website that is only there to showcase you as a brand is crucial. It might be the very thing to get people coming through the door, who may not know of your existence.

But merely having a website isn’t good enough, it’s about what you put on it and how it sounds, that will dictate whether it’s a success or not. After all, if you want potential customers to know what you do, the language needs to be as clear as possible. So if you are writing for your website, there are certain things you need to know:

Write for your audience not yourself

This is something many businesses get wrong. Too many websites are written poorly because the language is too industry focused. Often the actual benefits are not spelt out clearly and get lost amongst the jargon. Think to yourself, if you were buying your product how would you want it to sound. Think like a customer and less like an expert - then your copy will read much better.

Calls to action

Another common mistake, copy is often created without a purpose or a goal. Every page on your website needs to have a purpose. Whether this is to get a prospect’s contact details, subscribe to your blogs or purchase a product, every page must have a goal in mind that is clear to the customer. That means making your CTA (Call To Action) stand out from the rest of the webpage. This is really important to have in mind when you create copy for the web.

No one likes too much text

You’ve heard the phrase ‘get to the point’, this is because most people don’t have the time or attention span to go through copious amounts of content. When it comes to the web, less is usually more. So remember, think like a customer. Instead of long block paragraphs, break things up into smaller ones that communicate your message in a clearer way. Don’t be afraid to mix sentence structure up either. For instance, you could have some sentences which are long, but also mix it up with shorter ones as well. You’ll find that this will flow much better and ultimately read well to anyone who is looking at your website.

Blog posts

Creating regular blog posts can be incredibly useful, why? Firstly it shows that you understand things that are going on in your industry and that you have opinions on them. It also shows that you are about more than just selling, and that you actually have a passion for what you do and the space you work in. Blog posts don’t need to be that long or that detailed but they need to be clear and a little bit informal. If you can write in a way which shows passion and a little bit of charm then you might be on your way to creating some seriously engaging content. They are also incredibly useful as they can be shared across other mediums such as social media platforms and also in newsletters.

What is your tone?

How do you want to sound? Are you serious and professional or playful and lighthearted? Perhaps you’re a combination of the two; or maybe you want your language to be emotive and really pull at the heart strings of prospects. It is very important that you create a consistency in terms of tone of voice. Much of this may depend on the type of audience that are your core customer base. For example, a playful tone might suit a younger audience compared to an older one. Whatever you decide, keep it clear and consistent. You could create a style guide for copy. This is a great way to define your style to the whole company and anyone else who might write copy for you. A typical style guide might include the following:

  • Grammar guide
  • The type of tone you are going for (as discussed above)
  • Sentence structure (long or short)
  • Punctuation (where to place commas, dashes, full stops or colons)
  • Taboo words (words that you don’t want used at all which are out of the question e.g slang, swearing or anything colloquial)

Now that you know where to start, you can start selling your brand online. Interested in taking payments online as well? Take a look at our selection of online payment solutions.

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