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Dos and Don’ts of scannable website copy

scannable website copyWriting for the web is a lot different from other forms of writing. Not only do people spend precious little time on a web page, they also tend to scan, rather than read, the content.

Which means it is vital that you avoid reams of information on your web site, and instead create scannable copy.

Here are some dos and don’ts to help you write website copy that people want to read.

Do

Use Subheadings: these are a great way to not only break up copy, but also highlight main points. They make it easier for visitors to just read the sections that interests them, rather than having to wade through copious amounts of information just to get what they need.

Use break-out quotes: Got something important to say? Highlight it with some breakout copy (that is, copy that is not part of the main body of text). Put it in quotes, or a box, or italics.

Use lists: People love lists – this post is an example of how to use them. Make them punchy and interesting. And not just in blogs. For example, your landing page might have a list of “5 ways Acme Widgets will save you money”. Try not to go over 5, and put the most important stuff first. Scannable and intriguing.

It’s OK to break the rules: Professional marketing copywriters are constantly berated by clients not to start sentences with “and” or “but”, because that is what we learnt in primary school. But it’s really okay. And it can be a great way to make sentences stand out.

Be generous with the whitespace. This is probably more a design than copy issue, but as you write your content, keep in mind that it will not be one big mess of words, but rather a good website designer will break up those words with lovely, lovely whitespace.

Think font size and colour: Got something important to say? Then use a larger font, or colour the words red and put them in bold. Just make sure you do this judiciously, no one needs to see a website littered with too many different font sizes and colours.

Don’t

Go overboard: As mentioned above, make sure that you use different fonts, dot points, subheadings for important information only. You don’t want your website to look like Disneyland on acid.

Use too many exclamation marks and CAPITAL LETTERS: No one wants to be shouted at by an some kind of excited sales monster.

Justify the text: We see so many websites with the text centre-justified. This is very hard to scan and just looks messy. By all means centre your subheads, but keep the body left-justified.

Feel you have to say EVERYTHING on your website: This goes double for people in the ‘professions” who seem to want to prove their expertise. Trust me, no one cares, so just put enough information to tease the reader into calling or emailing you. Your copy should complement the design funnel, encouraging visitors to turn into leads and customers.

When you need scannable content that turns visitors into leads, contact Direct Sites Online 02 9557 7623 or email info@directsitesonline.com.au.

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