Website copy tips for busy readers
Reading from a screen can be tough on the eyes and we tire out more easily. When we arrive at a website, we want our questions answered quickly and we want to do very little thinking. Since much of our business is done online these days, it’s important that we remember this and treat our readers kindly.
This post will introduce you to the concept of a website’s user experience. It will consider different ways to make your website an efficient and pleasant online space to visit.
This term is used in the web development and design world and basically considers whether a visitor to your website gets to where they need to be as quickly as possible, encountering minimal obstacles along the way.
We live in an impatient world where we want to find information as fast as possible; we don’t want to waste precious minutes searching for answers or links. If your website is not efficient in this respect, there’s a risk that readers will get bored quickly and head elsewhere for their answers.
Calls to action
When creating your website it is important to be clear about what actions you want your readers to take. This is generally for them to contact you or buy a service or product from you. Having one or two clear actions is key. You then need to guide your readers to these calls to action, minimising distractions and obstacles.
Make their journey to that goal as easy as possible.
Here’s where knowing your readers can pay off. What are they typing into search engines to find you? What are their pain points and needs? What do they want to know, and once they find the answer to that question what will they ask next? Being armed with this information can help you to design your website content in a way that guides them to your calls to action.
Think of signposts as arrows and friendly nudges to quickly help your reader find what they need. Once you are clear about what your reader is looking for and what you want them to do, try some (or all, if you like) of these ideas.
Be honest, do you read every word on a website, or do you skim until you see something that catches your attention or answers a question you have?
One of the biggest obstacles I see on websites is large chunks of text. This can be overwhelming and it’s hard to read on a screen. Breaking your words up into smaller chunks with shorter sentences and white space in between helps your reader to find the important information they need to read.
Bullet points, lists and timelines highlight key points and keep the information digestible.
Use headings or bold type to draw the eye to certain information and to help a reader decide whether a section is relevant and helpful to them. Headings are another way of breaking up large amounts of text into separate points. This really helps with skim reading.
Buttons and links are an essential part of the user experience. Once the signposts have drawn the eye to the information your reader needs, buttons/links should answer the ‘what next?’ question by taking the reader directly there. For instance, when a reader has finished reading about your product, guide them to the next step: provide a link/button to your shop. Don’t leave them to figure out where to go next. Where there is a pause, there’s room for a reader to reconsider and head elsewhere.
Keeping your website free of clutter and simple to navigate is a great way to make it effective and valuable for your readers. Think like your reader when creating or updating your website and have others test drive it for you. An objective opinion is really useful when you’ve spent weeks immersed in the design of your website.
Are you thinking about updating your website but you’re not sure where to start? I offer a website audit, which is a review of your current website or specific web pages, with guidance and recommendations for further action.
A website audit will consider:
✅ The tone, accuracy and consistency of your copy
✅ The user’s experience of your website
✅ Whether your styling is consistent and effective
If you would like to know more or want to discuss a project, please get in touch.
© 2021 Emma Hewlett Proofreading