Writing copy for websites

May 26, 2016

They say people usually need six touches with a new supplier before placing any business, and I think that’s probably about right. I met someone at a networking meeting the other day and thought they might be able to help me with a project I was about to start work on. We exchanged cards and agreed to speak later that week. Two touches so far.

When I got back to the office I took a look at their website to get my next touch. I clicked on the ‘About Us’ tab and began to read. That was my third and last touch. They’d obviously spent a lot of time and money on imagery and graphics, but the words just didn’t work and somehow they destroyed the image I’d been building in my head about them. Lots of companies make the same mistake and they will never know how many potential customers they drive away before they get anywhere near the sixth and final point of contact.

As with any form of business writing, website content is a direct reflection of the company’s brand and expertise, so it really does matter. Writing copy for websites needs to be handled with great care and skill. People may get away with murder on social media, but a corporate website must be correct in every detail if it is to convince a new customer to take the next step.

Here’s a graphic example of what I mean. I had an e-mail recently claiming to be from Barclays Bank asking me to verify my account details. I’m sure you will have had similar phishing scams. The branding and fonts were very convincing, but as I don’t have an account with Barclays I knew it was a fake. When I looked more closely I noticed they’d used the word ‘county’ instead of ‘country’, a small mistake but one that Barclays’ web copywriters would never have let through. They’d also used an apostrophe in the possessive pronoun, ‘its’: another common faux pas.

It’s not just glaring errors like these of course. People who wright website copy for a living know how to describe products and services clearly and concisely and make sure the reader finds what they want quickly without having to read through lots of irrelevant text to get there.

They also keep their eye on what’s happening in the ever changing world of Google and will craft your text to make it as visible as possible on the web.

Writing for the web is not a black art, although there are many out there who would make you believe it is. But unless you’re sure you have the skills, not to mention the time, to do your website justice you’re probably better off leaving it to a professional.  DIY website content can be very expensive.

Advice on writing copy for websites from David Jordan, The Words WorkshopDavid Jordan