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Top 7 Guidelines To Writing Copy For The Web

By Amy Flynn

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You purchased WebSite Complete, you've found some interesting pictures for your site and you have some idea of what you want to say. Now comes the hard part. You need to make the transition from raw information to an easy-to-understand, user-friendly site. The way to do this is by creating great "copy" for the Web.

Copy is the term used for any text that goes on your Web page. Whether it's a heading, a company slogan or the story of how you created your business, copy helps you convey the important parts of your site. It's through great copy that you can convince customers to stay at your site a while longer and come back more often. Graphics can enhance a site but can never take the place of excellent, informative copy.

People want value when they go to Web sites. Value can be in the form of a special offer, but more often it's in the form of information. This is true of e-commerce sites as well as standard Web sites. The main reason people come to non-e-commerce sites is to gain knowledge. Creating clear copy is essential to attract repeat visitors.

For e-commerce sites, straightforward copy can establish trust between you and the customer. For example, there are many ways to sell books online. One way is to create a list of authors and titles. Another way is to make browsing for a book an informative experience. Amazon.com chose the latter when building its site and created one of the most popular sites on the Internet. When arriving at Amazon.com, the shopper is given snippets of information about featured products. As he or she begins selecting items, detailed reviews, recommendations and customer feedback are available to help the shopper make the right choice. All of this copy creates trust -- Amazon.com doesn't sell just any book; it sells the right book.

The challenge in writing copy is to convey an idea to an audience in the least amount of time. Copywriting takes practice, but here are a few hints to make it easier to master.

  1. Define your audience -- Are your customers novices or experts? Do they require lengthy explanations or general overviews? Will specifics confuse or satisfy them? Write as if you were speaking to a group of your customers.

  2. Define your purpose -- Is this copy to inform, excite or motivate? If you are selling products, you must always issue a "call to action" near the end. They've read the article so far, now your "call to action" will tell them to order the product.

  3. Develop an outline -- Brainstorm to get a list of main points you would like to cover. Under each point, jot down as many related ideas as you can. Then, narrow your ideas down to the essential topics.

  4. Write a rough draft -- Begin expanding on your main topics. Develop each idea thoroughly. Use examples when necessary. Your rough draft should be about twice as long as your final draft.

  5. Rewrite your rough draft -- Begin editing your copy. Correct obvious mistakes, like spelling and grammar.

  6. Start cutting -- Go through your draft again and begin paring it back. Read each sentence. Delete any that aren't essential.

  7. Have a friend read your copy -- Ask him/her the main point of the article. Make sure it's the point you intended.


    • Make a final draft -- Again, look for any grammar or spelling mistakes. Try to pare down sentences while retaining the meaning. Read it again and polish each sentence.

    Writing strong copy gets easier with practice. If people find your site difficult to understand, you could be losing visitors. Pay attention to feedback you receive on the site. For every person that sends you negative feedback, there are many that leave the site and never come back.

    Continue to edit your copy after it's posted. You should update your site every month, at least. It ensures that customers will gain value every time they visit. This keeps your Web site fresh and it keeps people coming back.

Amy Flynn is the Director of Communications at Go Daddy Software, http://www.godaddy.com in Cave Creek, AZ.

Source: http://Top7Business.com/?expert=Amy_Flynn

Article Submitted On: July 26, 2000