Many of the projects we do involve rewriting, and often the original writer of the material jokes nervously about their “mistakes”‘ Mistakes can be the issue; punctuation and spelling errors give a negative impression of your company to your website’s visitors, and also seem to affect your search results negatively.
But mistakes are fast and simple to fix. The more important aspect of a rewrite is often the organization of the materials. I’m working right now on a book that examines the history of an organization. The years from 1900 to 1940 are treated in a chapter that lists events in chronological order. If you read them all, though, you can see that this could also be the story of multiple failed attempts at a merger — failed because of economic factors and human ones — that finally culminated in a 1950s success that was not only the climax of half a century of abortive efforts but also the harbinger of changes in the larger society.
Which approach sounds like a better read?
We’re talking about a book here, but the principles are the same for your website:
- Look at the big picture. When you think about reworking your copy, don’t go at it like a proofreader first. Read it all first and get a sense of what’s there and how it could be sorted — there will be lots of possibilities, and some will be better than others. (Come back later and go at it like a proofreader.)
- Find the story. There’s always a story, even if it’s a slim story like customers saving time because of your software or a problem being solved by your service. Find the best story you’ve got and tell it. That doesn’t mean that you have to have anecdotes, though there are hardly any websites that can’t be improved by a good case study. Just putting the features and benefits in the right order can create a better story.
- Think about your customers and your goals. Do they want to be able to buy a commodity or get a service fast, without reading much or searching? Make an easy path for them. Do they need to think about your product before they commit — or get to know you so that when they happen to need your service, they think of you? Provide enough to keep them on the site for a while and bring them back, and new things to reward them for returning regularly.
Your web content should lead visitors along the path or paths that get them efficiently to their destination. It should also provide the best possible reading experience for skimmers and for studiers. Both these goals can usually be met by the right organization of your content. Make sure you’re using the right keywords, choose active, direct sentences with evocative language, keep the content and design compatible, and you have effective web content.
If this sounds like something you might need help with, contact Rosie and let’s discuss how we can help.