Less is more when it comes to website copy.
Think about it.
When you visit a website, do you carefully read every single word on
the page? I doubt it. Very few people do! In fact, according to
research on useit.com, “users will read about 20% of the text on the average page.”
To combat this problem, your website needs strong, concise copy. Users are more apt to digest one powerful sentence than a long, diluted block of gratuitous words – so be clear, compelling, and get to the point. Don’t fill your site with long, flowery paragraphs, or else your true message may get lost amidst the unnecessary fluff.
If you must include a significant chunk of text, here are some tips to optimize your copy for skimming and scanning. I like this article because it practices what it preaches. It uses bullet points, bold font, links, and white space to make the main points stand out, even if you’re only briefly scanning the article.
Which of these pages is more likely to grab your attention?
However, even with these tips, it’s best to keep things short and sweet whenever possible. As Mark Twain famously said, “If I’d had more time, I’d have written a shorter letter.” Just because you can write paragraphs and paragraphs doesn’t necessarily mean you should. Sometimes it takes more skill to write a shorter sentence, and it can be a much more effective marketing tool.
In my previous career writing TV news promos, I had less than 15 seconds to get my message across, so I had to make every single syllable count. On your website, make every word count. Cut redundant or unnecessary words and paragraphs. Each sentence should support the page’s main message – and if it doesn’t, you may want to reevaluate why you’ve included it in the first place.
For other Newfangled-ers’ perspectives on writing, check out Sarah’s recent post on Editing for the Nonprofessional Editor and Chris‘ Professional Writing for the Unprofessional Writer.