Come on, use your words, buddy.

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Earlier this month, we told you about the 5-Second Rule for Website Visits. Design and loading capabilities can grab a web surfer’s attention, but how do you hold them there? You have to use your words. Use these style notes when you’re writing text for your website.

Start with your homepage. Is the copy clear and concise? Does it convey what you want it to in the fewest words possible? Instead of writing in long paragraphs, write for your homepage in single sentences or clusters of text. Use bullets, numbers, or graphics to break up the words. Unlike a blog post, you want to avoid whole paragraphs. Remember, your visitors are seeking information. Tell them what they need to know in the most succinct manner possible, and then with prompts or a call-to-action, keep them moving forward into your website.

Since your visitors don’t know your business the way you do, you’ve got educate them. Simple terminology works best:

WHO are you? What is the name of your company? Do you have a short tagline or sub-title?
WHAT is your business about? Do you have a 1-minute elevator speech that efficiently communicates what your business or skill is?
WHERE are you located? How can potential customers or clients call you, or email you, or find you on Facebook?
WHY should they work with you, or buy from you?

Your website needs to communicate who you are, what you do, where they can find you, and what makes you or your business different; through concise messaging, your website’s text can communicate the value you offer.

While verbiage is important, there are some words you should avoid: buzzwords. These are words that are used frequently, or sound trendy. Often, their true meanings have been diluted because they have been overused, or even used inaccurately. While you may think that buzzwords may make you or your company sound like a genius or the next best thing, they can suck the value out of your message. Here’s a list of buzzwords that don’t convey clarity, and are generally overused in marketing and website messaging:

Sustainability

Holistic

Benchmark

Results-driven

Synergy

Globalization

Functionalities

Performance-based

Optimize

Incentivize

Mission-critical

When integrating your website’s design elements with text, it’s important to make sure the text supports the graphic, and vice-versa. While abstract images may catch a reader’s eye, they don’t illustrate what your company does, or what services you provide to clients. If your business is a retail clothing store, make sure there are images of your product on your page. If you’re an attorney, your credentials and professional image will keep potential clients on your page.

How do you know your website’s message is effective? The obvious answer is the success of your business. A/B testing, which compares two versions of a web page to see which performs better, can help you make a business decision about your website, but if your business is on a budget or your company is just starting up, that expense may not be practical. A fun and easy way to test your website’s messaging is to ask friends and business connections outside your industry to read your home page. Ask them to not click around the site, but to concentrate on whether or not they can figure out the “who, what, where, and why” of your business. Ask them to explain in their own words what your business is and what you do. You may be surprised at their answers, and may come away with a new perspective and fresh ideas about your website!

Zoom Design can help you get the right words for your website. We’ll come up with great ideas to create a website that tells your story, tells visitors what your business does, and how it can help your customers. Tell us what you think about our website, or reach out to us on Facebook!