Creating copy that converts.
It’s now pretty widely understood how important it is to create meaningful, relevant and useful content for a better user experience. In order to encourage the visitors to your site to behave as you’d hoped (“sign up”, “register here” or “buy now”), you’re going to have to be helpful, informative and guide them into making their decisions. Good content is an art form.
In that respect, then, how do we all become artists? How can you ensure you write for users and for search engines?
Fear not! Here are some handy tips to keep in mind when you’re drafting that all-important copy…
Be clear and concise
Long, jargon-filled sentences and pieces with no structure are hard to read and offer a poor user experience. Writing as you’d speak adds personality around your brand. Approachable, friendly language appeals to a wide audience and leaves room to get more technical later on in the purchasing funnel. Moz is a great example of personality and expertise working together to create a strong ‘brand voice’. I also rate the writing style over at Copy Hackers. Refreshingly honest, friendly and straight to the point. Check out the way they talk about their new Snap offering:
No good having all that optimised, engaging and persuasive content if visitors see a big block of text and bounce, though. As far as aesthetics go, try some of these tactics:
Offer easy-to-remember bite-sized chunks of information
On average, people can store between 5 and 9 pieces of information in their short term memory. Grouping or chunking means that your visitors can store more relevant information within that chunk. Short term memory lasts for around 20 to 30 seconds before it’s either discarded or committed to the long term memory. A big block of text is likely to lead to infoxication and an overwhelmed visitor.
Use descriptive subheadings to introduce what’s next
A good subheading can act as a summary of the next topic and offer a teaser for what you’re about to say.
Forward-loading your content helps keep your visitors engaged and makes a piece of content look more interesting.
Use descriptive links to help scanning readers
Similarly, in the same way that a subheading will focus attention, a descriptive phrase in a contrasting colour helps those visitors who are skim-reading to understand what a particular paragraph is about. This eye-tracking study revealed that visitors prefer these sorts of links as it means they are easier to locate on a page – and they can act as another way of summarising a topic in an aesthetically pleasing way.
Introduce concise lists
- Lists are short
- Lists are scannable
- Lists are quickly digested
Introduce less concise bullet points
- Instead of an image; a set of symmetrical bullets will add visual interest to what could be a super-dull page
- As a list; although they’re longer they clarify a topic succinctly and mean readers identify your content’s theme
- Like a headline; they grab the attention of your reader and serve to highlight something important
- To keep that interest going; use language that encourages a certain action or is an invitation to keep reading
- As a gentle suggestion; for example, an arrow implies an action should be taken, and a tick implies a “to do” list
Choose the right font for legibility
I love this infographic about Serif vs Sans Serif fonts. Generally speaking, you should use sans serif online and save serif for print with it’s far higher resolution. A larger font is usually easier to read but, again, using sans serif means the font is scalable so readers can choose their size.
No need to justify
Keep your text left-aligned so it’s easier to read. Right-aligned or centred text has no obvious line beginning so that when the readers’ eyes get to the end of one line, they don’t know where to begin the next. Justified text uses irregular spacing between words, which means the brain can’t understand when the next one is going to start. If a reader can learn, they’ll read more quickly and more easily – making for a better user experience.
Over to you
Give the visitors to your site a hand in understanding what you’re offering, and for goodness’ sake, don’t make them trawl through paragraph after paragraph of copy to do so. Test succinct bullet points, descriptive subheadings and layout to find out what works best for your audience. Above all, enjoy telling your story and show some personality!