I just don't understand why someone would go to all the trouble of setting up a website without checking that the words make sense. I'm not talking pedantry here, just plain English getting a clear point across.
So here are my tips for writing copy that will keep your visitors reading:
- Keep it short - paragraphs should be no more than three or four lines long - if your reader wants more, provide them with a link.
- Use a sans serif font. Unless you're the Times it's a lot easier to read.
- Don't be tempted to ruin great content with too much keyword peppering - it looks pushy and sales-y and frankly, dodgy.
- Before you publish, get someone else to read it - preferably someone who hasn't been through the process of writing it with you.
- Get to the point. Before you begin, think about the main point you want to get across, whether it's what your company does, sells, buys, or the information it provides.
- Do a waffle check - can you say it in fewer words? An example I came across recently had the phrase 'At the simplest level of complexity...' which sounds much better as just 'At the simplest level...'
- How's your vocabulary? Have you carefully considered the words that will get your point across clearly and , or have you given up and fallen back on clichés?
- Does your tone of voice match your brand? Don't try and be 'down with the kids' if you're aiming at young people, that never works, but don't make the language too stuffy either - little things like using contractions (it's rather than 'it is', for example) have a big impact.
- Check your grammar - or get someone else to do it. Is everything in the same tense? Are you consistent with who you're addressing i.e. 'you' or 'one'? Do you refer to your business consistently as 'we' or 'it'?
- Remember that even if grammar and punctuation aren't important to you, they are important. The internet is competitive enough - don't let poor copy spoil your hard work.