Don’t overlook the words in your digital overhaul.
A website migration or refresh is a great opportunity to practise some digital feng shui – to rethink your goals, refocus your user journeys, archive all the content you don’t need any more, and ensure your content is aligned with your up-to-date proposition.
But done well, a migration is an opportunity to refresh and review not just the structure and design and look-and-feel of your digital presence – but the words too. What’s the point of spending all that time and effort and resource on a shiny new UX, a super-smart, contemporary new look and a cutting-edge CMS, only to pour back in all the tired words from your old site? And yet this happens, of course, and depressingly often.
So to make sure your website refresh is also a copy refresh, here are three key questions to have front of mind as you craft new content for your shiny new site:
1: Do I know what I’m doing?
Sounds flippant, but it’s really not. A good piece of web content packs a very clear sense of purpose and focus from the word go.
So for any piece of content you’re thinking of writing, you need to be able to answer those basic existential questions: Who is this content for? What do they need from this page? What do we want them to think or do after reading this page? How does this page support our business goals? And how will we know if this page is a success?
Poor planning usually begets confusing copy. If you’re struggling to come up with crisp, clear answers to any of these questions, maybe a rethink is in order before you begin.
2: Am I making life as easy as possible for my users?
Your customers are your business. Digitally speaking, your users are why you exist. And when it comes to copy, effortlessness is the cornerstone of a positive user experience.
With web content, the perception of ease is a powerful nudge to engagement and conversion. When a user looks at a new page, they carry out a very, very quick mental calculation: Is the probable effort being asked of me as a reader here likely to be worth the rewards of consuming this content, in terms of information or entertainment?
So ask yourself: Have I structured the content so that users get an instant sense of what it’s about? Are messages layered in order of user priority? Is the signposting intuitive? Are there multiple entry points? Does the copy pass the reader’s ‘So what?’ test? Does it focus on benefits, not features? Are the words and syntax used simple to process?
3: Is the language fresh?
So the page is well-planned. You know who it’s for and what it’s about. It’s scannable and intuitive to look at, and the language is plain. So why is it still such a dull read?
Perhaps because the copy falls back on clichés and legacy language, the sort of words and phrases marketing writers often turn to because they feel safe and familiar. You know: ‘tailored to your specific requirements’, ‘today’s fast-moving world’, ‘we’ve got Christmas all wrapped up’, ‘something for everyone’, ‘solutions provider’, ‘state-of-the-art’, and all the rest.
The problem here is that the reader is so used to seeing such phrases that they cease to have any impact or even meaning.
So ask yourself: Am I showing rather than telling? Am I talking about what we do in fresh, interesting and specific ways? Am I thinking hard about why anyone will care about these words? Am I writing stuff that is interchangeable with what you could find on loads of other sites in our space? Have I injected any tone or personality?