September 23, 2010

Website Content Series Part 2: To Write or Not to Write


Hostway Team

By Simon Wright

When companies first create a website, there can be a temptation to simply lift and shift content that already exists in company literature. However, people read Web content in a totally different way than they read brochures, and you therefore need to ensure that your content is optimized for the online audience.

Creating Effective Web Content

Research shows that users scan Web pages for relevance, looking for headings and highlighted words that confirm whether the page holds relevance for them. They expect information to be provided in a clear and straightforward manner and detest “marketese” content — e.g. unsubstantiated claims such as “best product ever." Rather than telling users why your product is great, it’s much better to show them, whether that’s through an online demo, a video or providing reviews (good and bad) from real customers.

Whether to Hire a Copywriter

Working with words, and understanding how to marry them to the conventions of Web writing, is not a skill that everyone possesses. It is also a time-consuming activity and some business owners will feel that their time is best focused upon running their business rather than sweating over word choice.

Hiring a professional copywriter can, therefore, be very appealing. The advantages of this are that they will have an intricate knowledge about how best to construct Web pages effectively, and they will take the hassle out of the process for you. The disadvantages are that they won’t know your business as well as you and their services will come with a cost!

It is possible for business owners to write their own content. There are plenty of online resources, such as the excellent blank"> website, that provide hints and tips on creating effective online content. However, it’s unrealistic to expect to be able to match the quality of content that professional copywriters deliver, so you will need to be aware of that trade off between quality and cost.

Using a Copy Template

One aspect that has fueled the growth of do-it-yourself Websites is the availability of Website templates. Users simply select the template that they wish to employ and this then narrows down the design choices that you are forced to make.

For those who do decide to write their own content, using a copy template can help to ensure that you achieve consistency across your pages. The downside is that it reduces flexibility and may not help your Website to stand out from the crowd.

Time and Money

Ultimately, the decision on whether to outsource the Web content to a copywriter will usually be tied to an evaluation of how much budget you have and how much spare time you would have to write the content yourself. If you do decide to employ a copywriter, it is still important to work closely with them to make sure that they understand your products and services and what your key objectives are for the website.

About the Author

Simon Wright works as mobile delivery manager for Royal Bank of Scotland and has extensive experience across Ecommerce and Mcommerce including the launch and promotion of websites.

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