A brief guide to writing website copy

Does the blinking cursor on a blank white page make you nervous? Do you feel overwhelmed at the thought of writing your website copy? Don’t be because we have summarised a few tips that will get you started in no time.

We used to struggle with writing website copy too. You’ve got so much information and ideas in your head, but you just don’t know where and how to start writing it down. Over the years we have learned a lot of things from experience, trial and error and gathered insights from colleagues, mentors and copywriters who inspire us.

In this article we share our process for writing website copy that is relevant and engaging to your audience.

Put your user first

Instead of launching into telling your users about all the great things you do, put your customers’ priorities first. Start with writing a list of questions your users are looking to find answers to on your website.

Just grab a pen and pencil, switch perspective and write down a list of questions you know your target audience has about your brand, its offering and how they can benefit from it. These questions may vary depending on your industry or organisation, but the core questions will always be similar:

  • Which events or circumstances have triggered your users to look for you?
  • How do your customers feel when they get to your website?
  • How can you help them solve a problem or give them a great experience?
  • How are they benefiting from your products or services?

To answer these questions you need to know who you are as a brand and what purpose you are trying to achieve. Focus on the benefits you are offering buyers and give them emotional and logical reasons to buy from you.

Answer your questions

With all possible questions written down, put them in a logical order and answer them in short bullet points. You may find it useful to write your questions and bullet point answers on post-it notes, so that you can find the best and logical order on your website for them.

When you start producing your copy take the following principles into account:

  • Be truthful and genuine – don’t make any claims you cannot prove
  • Focus on the benefits and not the features of your products or services
  • Speak your customer’s language – make sure everyone can understand your copy
  • Don’t test your users’ patience – get to the point
  • Don’t try to be too clever or put style over substance – keep it simple & meaningful
  • Don’t hard sell – be subtle
  • Don’t write about your brand in the third person – be personable & relatable (use ‘we’ and ‘you’)
  • Incorporate customer stories, reviews and testimonials

Clearly structure your copy

We rarely read every single word on a website. Most of the time we scan through content to get to the part that is relevant to us. To produce scannable content create a clear hierarchy to help your users navigate through it:

  • Start with a main headline. But don’t write cryptic headlines! Tell your readers exactly what they are going to learn from your article or webpage.
  • Follow the headline with a short introductory paragraph that briefly summarises the content of the page.
  • Structure your paragraphs by introducing subheadings that help users navigate through your copy.
  • Write concise paragraphs with sentences of varying length. Mix short with long sentences to create a consistent rhythm.
  • Introduce bullet lists where appropriate to keep your copy easy and quick to read.
  • Break up long passages of copy with pull-out quotes from your copy or add a customer review or testimonial for social proof and increased credibility.

Create clear calls to action

Copywriting is the art of asking your user to actively do something. Website copy wouldn’t be website copy without clear calls to action. Use them to draw attention to your products, services, blogs and events by asking users to actively engage with you.

You might want to ask them to get in touch by filling in a contact form, using a chatbot or by picking up the phone. You may want them to book an event, to sign up to a newsletter and to ultimately buy your products and services.

Make your calls to action part of your website copy and word them in relevant, accessible and engaging copy for your links and buttons. Don’t use expressions like ‘Click here’ or ‘Follow this link’ or ‘Read more’, it is not just meaningless to your users but also to search engines.

You may be interested in our blog: Why you shouldn’t use ‘Click Here’

Don’t copy & paste from your old website

If you are undergoing a website redesign and development, it’s tempting to just copy and paste from your old site. Always carefully audit existing or, even better, create entirely new content. By copying content from your old to the new site, you may inherit old problems. Your copy might be outdated, is inconsistent in tone of voice or does not work in harmony with the user journey and overall design. It will have a negative impact on the user experience. This is your chance to really create a great site. Make the most of it.

We recommend working with an SEO expert to help you review your copy. They will be able to advise you on strength and weaknesses within your website’s SEO and recommend which content to keep and which content to overhaul.

Work with a professional copywriter

We know that budgets can be quite stretched and some people fear that they are giving too much control to someone who may not understand the industry and their business as well. Don’t let that stop you. You can always ask a professional copywriter to help you review, shape and improve your copy once you have written it.

If you would like us to help you review or shape your website copy then please get in touch. We’re always happy to help.

About Franzi Scheithauer

Franzi is Creative Director at Studio Brand Up and specialises in brand strategy and identity design.