Imagine that you are looking for a specific product or service that you market. Now take a look at your website. Does your navigation make it easy to find the relevant item? Is it easy to understand? Is everything in the right order?
Here is a simple navigation bar:
Services (or Products)
Notice that there are only 5 options.
in general terms, fewer is better.
An upper limit would be 9 items.
Use drop downs to reveal other options.
Ensure that the menu works well on smartphones and other mobile devices.
If the customer hasn’t visited your site before, they will be looking for something. If they can’t find it quickly, they will disappear.
Visitors will spend a few seconds looking for what they’re after. If it is buried or difficult to find, you’re making them work too hard and they will go elsewhere.
My first book was about writing words for websites. During the research for this book, I looked at hundreds of website navigation bars.
How many websites do you visit, during a normal working day? How long do you spend looking at each site? Website visitors go foraging. Information foraging is an art which people learn when they use search engines. Some may say that they are lazy. Darwin would have said: “Why waste additional energy if you don’t have to?”
Clear thinking leads to clear writing
Are you clear about:
► Your subject matter?
► Who you are writing for?
► Your objectives?
In a world where many of us have become content publishers, effective webcopy writing skills are in great demand. Here are some tips and ideas for you, based on on my experience so far…
Become your reader
When you are writing webcopy, focus on the reader. Write as if you were writing for one person. Use the word ‘You’ as much as possible.
Use ‘You’ four times as often as you use ‘I’ and ‘We’.
When people read your webcopy, it will come across as more personal and engaging.
Structure your content
You have one second, so make it count.
Website visitors are busy, just like you are. They have limited time and will only give you a moment or two to convince them to continue reading.
10 years ago, I used to tell my seminar audiences that they had four seconds. Five years ago, it was two seconds. Today, you only have one second to get the readers’ attention.
What goes through their mind, both consciously and sub consciously, within a second?
“Does the design look professional?” “Is this going to be hard work to read?” “What does the headline say? Does it look interesting? Is this a solution to my problem? Is it worth reading the first sentence of the text?” “Can I easily find what I want?” “How do I contact them to find out more?”
Signpost your content
Use clear signposting. What does this page offer the reader? Begin by arresting the reader’s attention. Then keep hold of it. Start by telling them what’s in it for them.
Give reasons to read
It is a good idea to use summary paragraphs. These act as ‘advertisements’ for the next section of text.
Give them the big picture
Give the reader the big picture for what lies ahead.
Think about the home pages that you visit. Some of them are hard to understand, aren’t they?
During my internet marketing workshops and talks, I used to say that you had 4 seconds to convince a website visitor to stay on your website. Today, that number has reduced to 1 second.
Internet users typically visit dozens and sometimes hundreds of websites in a single day. If they haven’t visited your site before, they will be looking for something. If they can’t find it quickly, they will simply visit a different website.
Two types of people visit your site: strangers and friends. The latter includes customers, staff, suppliers, investors and other people who know your business. They tend to be more forgiving and will they will take their time to find what they want. On the other hand, strangers are first time visitors who have found you, for example, via search or a hyperlink. They are busy. They are on a mission. They want an answer to their question and they want it right now.
Imagine for a moment that you are one of these people and that you are looking for a product or service that you provide. Now take a look at your website. Can you find this product or service quickly? Is it contained within the main navigation bar? Is it mentioned within your homepage? Is there a search bar towards the top of the screen?
The first second on your site is all about first impressions. Does the page look professional? Is there anything that could put the visitor off? Does the page work properly on a smartphone? Assuming that you pass this test, the visitor will spend a few seconds looking for what they are after. If it is buried or difficult to find, you are making them work too hard and they are very likely to go elsewhere.
How many customers are you losing, by not passing the ‘1 second homepage’ test?
Writing the copy (words) for your website can be quite challenging. You need to be clear on your marketing strategy, market segments, points of differentiation, key messages etc before you start to write.
Here is a website writing checklist
Decide on the purpose of your website
Choose the market segments that you will be communicating with (i.e by looking at your marketing plan)
Decide on the geographical footprint (local, regional, national, multi-country, global?)
Write a list of all of the products / services that you sell
Ask your customers what they would like to see, within your website
Gather testimonial statements together and, ideally, get some new ones
Think carefully about the main navigation bar, i.e. Home About Services Blog Contact (etc)
Seven navigation bar items is fine; nine is the upper limit
Ensure that you are well supplied with coffee, tea and biscuits
Select the keywords and keyword phrases that you will be using
Write the draft copy for the homepage quickly and set this to one side
Now write the copy for the main ‘nav bar’ pages
Refer back to the homepage copy (it will probably need changing)
Write a batch of blogs for the new website
Take a short holiday
Incorporate calls to action throughout the webcopy
Edit the words
Edit them again
Get someone else to read through it all
Proof-read the webcopy
Upload it to your website
Use anchor text links to join everything up
Lie down in a darkened room: you deserve it
Study your website stats to see what people are actually reading
Use this information + customer feedback to improve your webcopy
Take a much longer holiday than you did at step 15
Are you launching a new website or looking to revitalise your current site? I offer a website writing service with a difference. It combines over three decades of copywriting experience with my marketing consultancy knowledge (3000+ clients). If you would like to spend a day or two writing your website words with me, by all means get in touch. By the way, I never take holidays.
App – create your own
Banner ads paid for
Banner ads reciprocal
Blogging within your website
Blogging within other websites
Call back button
Facebook for business
LinkedIn group – launch your own
Mobile phone ads (Mobile marketing)
Multimedia Messaging Service MMS smartphone images / videos
Newsletter via email
Slidedecks – via slideshare.com
YouTube product or service demonstration
YouTube video blog
Written by digital marketing consultant, trainer and author Nigel Temple.
WordPress started life as a blogging tool and was released in 2003 by its creators, Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little. The software is free to use and it has developed into a popular Content Management System (CMS), which allows you to edit your own website. Some 23% of the world’s websites currently use the WordPress CMS. You login to it via a website browser, which means that you can edit your site from a desktop computer, tablet or a smartphone. WordPress has a community of 100s of volunteers who are continually improving it.
There are thousands of themes available (the theme governs the look and feel of the site). If you are tired of your website design, you can choose a new theme. At the time of writing, parallax themes are becoming popular.
Recent themes are responsive, which means that they work well with tablets and smartphones.
There are over 30,000 plugins available which provide additional functionality, i.e help with SEO, or the creation of a client portal.
Via the above link, you can also create your own site, however, there are some limitations with this approach, i.e. you can’t install your own plugins.
Alternatively, you can choose a website hosting service which offers ‘one click WordPress installation’. A word of advice: choose one where you can pick up the phone and talk to somebody (as opposed to handling questions via email).
You can learn to build your WordPress website yourself, if you are technically inclined. Or can you go on a training course where you typically build your own site in a day. Most businesses usually use a third party website development firm which specialises in WordPress (ask me if you would like a recommendation).
WordPress is SEO friendly. ‘Permalinks’ are created automatically when you write a new blog post or web page. I like the way in which the software automatically creates the page Title tag for me and also the way in which I can toggle between Visual and Text view (the latter gives me access to the html).
With regards to blogging, you should categorise your blog posts (which is easy in WordPress). You can add Tags to your posts and create a Tag cloud if you wish.
I have been using WordPress for five years. I find it easy and intuitive to use and I write my blogs directly in the software. I like the way that I can upload and manipulate images, easily embed videos and create new pages whenever I want to.