7 Web Copywriting Tips To Help Digital Hunter/Gatherers

by Joe Pelissier on October 6, 2010

If you are about to write some web copy here are some copywriting tips to help make sure that what you write is understood and acted upon.

Writing copy for a webpage is different from print media – you need to think of your readers as hunter / gatherers in an electronic data forest.

Even though they know what they want, they are in a permanent state of distraction. Write with this in mind.

1. Visuals Love Captions

The Data Forest

The Data Forest

After the headline, it is the caption that is is read next on the page. And pictures of people always attract attention, especially ones with a smiling face.

Okay, I agree that a series of 1s and 0s are not as appealing as a pretty face…but the tip still  holds true.

Often what you write in a caption will influence whether the rest of the text is read.

2. Cater for The 1% and 8 Second Rule

Only 1% of visitors to your page will take some form of action. This means that on average only 1 out of every 100 will make a purchase, sign-up to receive something or telephone your office.

And you have only 8 seconds to convince your reader that they have arrived at the right place, after that 50% of them will go in search of something better.

If you are lucky enough to hold their attention the average time they will spend on your time is 21 seconds.

3. Accept That Readers Don’t Read

Your reader is on a quest for answers.

At lightning speed he scans the page looking for relevant pieces of information. And he does this in an ‘F’ pattern, going across the top from left to right, then down the left-hand margin making lightning forays across the page.

‘F” = Fast. How speedily are you providing the right answers?

The demo below gives you a clear idea of what’s going on.

Eye-tracking studies, like this one, suggest that as little as 18% of what you slavishly write is read.  Oh, dear….

4. Write Relevant Headlines

That’s why copywriting tip no. 2 is so important – you have to find a way to catch the reader’s attention.

As with printed media, your headline determines whether the rest of your copy is is read or not.

On average, 5 times as many people will read the headline as read the body copy.

Great headlines are an art form. You respond to ones that are eye-catching, memorable and relevant. Your reader is no different.

The good news is that there are no rules – some are short and others long. Some funny whilst other arouse mystery and curiosity.

A good copywriting tip is to test them.  Something that it is very easy to do online. Come up with a variety and test to see which one performs the best.

5. Make Your Body Copy Easy To Read

That’s because you now know that most people don’t read – they scan.

• Limit each paragraph to just 1 idea and use short, simple sentences

• Use subheadings to break up the page

• Use numbered or bulleted lists as they help to highlight and convey meaning quickly

• Bolden key words without littering the page with them

• Avoid acronyms as you will only confuse those not familiar with them

6. Go Steady on Hyperlinks

A great way to lose a potential reader or customer is to send them off to read ‘helpful’ hyperlinks. All this does is help to make your content lose its ‘edge’

Use them sparingly and make sure they are relevant.

And try to avoid image hyperlinks. They may look cool but remember that your reader won’t know they are ‘live’ until she has tumbled through by accident. Also, once visited, there’s nothing to indicate whether it was clicked on, or not.

7. Master Layout & Typography

In terms of layout, your page needs to be easy on the eye to allow the reader to pick-up relevant pieces of information quickly. If it’s bunched and inconsistent, it will deter the reader. Readers look sequentially at the headline, the visual, the caption and finally the copy; so put the elements in that order.Typography is about font, font size and line length. All online copy needs to be in a Sans Serif font such as Arial or Verdana. It needs to be of a size that is easy to read otherwise you’ll just frustrate your reader. (Designers favour small fonts, marketers larger ones…) The type of content you publish will influence line length. Sales and marketing copy benefits from a shorter line length, whilst more intellectual copy tends to get away with up to 95 characters per line (cpl).

Reading this final copywriting tip was a bit of an effort, wasn’t it?

Related Posts

If you found this helpful, you will want to read other posts in the Web Copywriting Category.

Be Sociable, Share!

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: