Writing website content takes a little bit of magic and a little bit of love. Copy is meant to be compelling and shouldn’t bore. It should also clearly display who you are and what you do.
We know what good content looks like when we see it. But how do we create it?
To answer this question, understanding a little bit about the psychology of language helps. The University College London found recently that the brain separates speech into words and intonation. We process much more when we hear language than just the words being spoken.
While writing content, we don’t have the musicality of sound and voice to add tone to our words. We do, however, have the opportunity to be clear and direct and to create a natural rhythm through the reader’s voice. This is why conversational tones in blog writing and social media are much more successful.
When people come to your website, they are giving you a chance to build trust. Your content must speak to them and unify their need with your product or service. And, to make it more difficult, you have 30 seconds to do this.
This is why you shouldn’t be selling on your homepage. That’s what your product or service page is for. Your homepage is your online welcome mat. It’s the gateway to purchase. You’re inviting them to look at your store and promising whatever it is that you deliver.
Start with how you want your visitors to feel when they come to your site and move toward what you want the to do next. The goal here is generally to click through to your products or to continue reading other parts of your site. Then, ideally, purchase, subscribe or engage.
In order to do this, you must build that trust in 30 seconds or less. Writing website content that is crisp and direct that speaks to a need is critical.
When writing for clarity, you must be direct. Note that adverbs and adjectives are often untrustworthy. Not to mention that they take up valuable real estate on your website. There is only so much space and so many words a reader will see and absorb.
You want your words to be impactful and drive that tone that the written word doesn’t have. The author Ezra Pound said, “Use no superfluous word, no adjective, which does not reveal something.”
The key here is to reveal something. A visitor lands on your site with the questions “Who are you,” and “What do you do?” Your job is to answer them directly.
For example, Kim Peres indicated when someone “stabs a straw” into a drink, you have a clear definite image of what that is, whereas when some says, “poked a straw swiftly,” the message is not so clear.
Turn “Visitor” into “You”
Since you are writing for someone else to read, address the person, even if you don’t know whoever is visiting your site. The pronoun “you” can be very persuasive and invite the reader to engage with the content. Even though it’s a one-way conversation, using the word “you” implies something active – a choice to listen.