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The copy on any page on your web site should be as long as your readers need it to be – and not a word longer.
First, you need to understand the purpose of each block of copy:
• Is it there to help the reader move forward through your site and find what they are really looking for? If so, the copy should be brief yet long enough to help your visitor make the right choices.
• Is the copy there to provide detailed information or complete a sale online? If that's the case, your copy may be longer. Again, it should only be as long as it needs to be.
*Text IS harder to read on a monitor and causes more eye strain. Keep that in mind.
One of the most valuable web copywriting tips I can offer is to make sure your homepage is written with your visitors' expectations at the front of your mind. Too many websites are company-centric instead of being visitor-centric. These sites talk endlessly about themselves instead of focusing their messages on the visitor. Company-centric sites may do well, but they do so in spite of themselves.
The most successful web sites are visitor-centric. Their headlines, text, and messages throughout are focused not on themselves, but on the needs, expectations, and priorities of their visitors.
Don't write about yourself. Write about what your visitors want to hear. Speak to their needs. Good online copywriting always addresses the needs of the visitor.
You may have noticed that the first time you visit a site, it's often a struggle to find what you want. However, he next time you go there, it gets easier, and so on. Over time, we can get used to even the most horrible site.
A returning visitor will forgive you for almost anything but a first-time visitor often won't. The first time someone comes to your site they'll give you maybe three or four seconds of their time (that's how long you have to get and hold their attention and interest). Always write and design with the first-time visitor in mind.
When someone arrives at your site for the first time, they see only the first screen of your homepage content. It doesn't matter of your home page is four screens long, all they see is the first screen (also known as "above the fold"—like a newspaper. And, not everyone will scroll down to the other screens. Follow these rules to help keep your visitors interested:
• Make sure that the most important messages, images, and links are on the first screen
• Let people know they are in the right place
• Make it clear that they can find what they are looking for on your site
• Engage their attention (make them want to scroll down and explore your site)
This is a big one. On that first screen of your homepage, make it absolutely clear what it is that visitors can expect to find on your site, don't be vague. If, for example, you sell printing services, don't say something horrible like, “Tomorrow's Printing Solutions Today”. Be clear, say something more like, “We Print Business Stationery, Fliers and Brochures”. Be specific and be clear.
*Copywriting online is about being clear, fast and informative.
|Sheri Ann Richerson|