Writing On The Web
All across the web, you can hear the webmasters chanting: Content is King! King I tell you! Yet rarely do they execute on their proclamations.
"Content is King"
I browse the web all day long, and I’m a person who actually reads the copy on most sites.
And well, I have to tell you — it sucks.
Big time. I find it a shame that so many site owners put such little stakes in copywriting.
All across the web, you can hear the webmasters chanting:
Content is King! King I tell you!
Yet rarely do they execute on their proclamations.
It’s sad for me to see this, because they all seem to know what they should be doing, but rarely do they actually do what they should be doing.
A Unique Place
Many people think that writing for the web is just like writing for print, but they’re wrong.
A website has a whole lot less time to prove itself than a piece of printed copy does.
Most of the time when someone is browsing the web, they are surrounded by a circus of distractions.
Just think about it: you’re sitting on the computer researching Home Audio systems.
Meanwhile, you may be casually chatting with a few friends via Instant Messenger.
Of course, you’ve got dinner in the oven and the TV’s on as well.
Every few minutes you take a break from the computer and watch Battlestar Galactica from your TiVo.
So, you finally find time to search for home audio equipment on Google, and lo and behold, there’s around 45 million results.
You click on the first result and are immediately assaulted with ads.
Your eyes can’t focus on any content you actually want, let alone any copy explaining just what this site is.
So, you click the back button and try the next result.
The bottom line is: You can’t assume print copywriting principles will transfer directly to the web.
You have to take into account the landscape your copy will be resting in. It’s a lot easier to click the back button than it is to throw away a magazine.
Spelling, Grammar, What?
This is an all too common mistake I find on the web. Websites, even professional ones, are riddled with simple spelling and gramatical mistakes.
If there’s anything to ruin credibility — it’s misspelling simple words like “the” four times on the home page.
Any webmasters out there looking for a quick way to improve bounce rates and stickyness–this is it.
Run your site through a spell checker and grammar checker, like Microsoft Word.
Chances are you’ll find a great deal of mistakes that are easily corrected.
I’m Falling Asleep...
Which brings me to my next point: most copy on the web is boring.
The web is littered with simple little phrases, dull paragraphs and words that make me feel like I’m back in High School struggling to stay awake during 7am class.
I guess someone missed the memo about it being alright to be a little bit daring with your copy.
It might even be okay to drop in a little bit of humor now and then.
Not That Bad
No! It’s not. There has been a great revolution going on in the web recently and a lot of it has been simplifying web sites.
Companies like Apple and 37Signals are doing it right.
I think as more companies’s websites fail in the coming years they will learn to spend the extra few pennies (relatively) to hire a decent copywriter to go over their site.
I think the copywriting revolution is coming.
If you ever wondered if the time was right for copywriters — it definitely is.
I can see copywriting bursting in demand in the coming year.
Here’s to the year of the copywriter!