The Web Writing Process

Writing Tips for A Successful Website And The Power Of Words

Think of your website as an advertisement. Then ask yourself why advertising copywriters are at the heart of their profession, and so highly paid. Words matter; good ones persuade, poor ones dissuade.

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Websites that work have objectives. And these are for you to come up with, before you brief website designers. Their skill is ensuring your chosen objectives are complemented by a graphically pleasing and easily navigable page layout. Don’t expect them to know all about horse whips and their market worldwide. They may know a little about horse-racing (or more deviant interests!) but that’s not their role. They need you to tell them about your product or service, and what you wish to achieve with your website – from the opening page.

Once you have identified a prime objective for the website, stick to it and don’t muddy the waters by offering subsidiary objectives. Yes, you can sometimes have a few closely related objectives described on a single page, but remember that with each ‘sub-prime’ objective added you are in danger of weakening the impact of all of them. An example: you wish to sell boots for men (working men) but you lose your courage and also offer slippers for grandpa. Wrong! Error! Now you’ve upset both grandpa and the working man. Keep on message.

 Writing Process – The Words

And now to words themselves, and how to let them work for you not against you. Approach the task of writing up the objective as if it were a work of fiction. This means you should make notes about your objective: what is it? Who precisely are you aiming it at? What’s so special about you, or your organisation, that you feel empowers you to be the ideal provider of the product or service? Come up with as many questions and answers as you can (use colleagues, clients and friends to help) and then retire hurt; you will be confused and incapable of writing anything. Excellent. You are now fully loaded. Leave it a day or two, then take to the keyboard and, with the prime objective firmly in mind, just let rip. If your website page could contain say two hundred words, ignore the limit and just type away until your message is on file. Well done! The job is half done.

The final task, and one that will make your website copy sing, is now about to happen. Locate the delete button on your keyboard and try it out. It’s going to be busy.

Read through the entire copy and brutally delete every useless adjective and redundant adverb. Not some; all. Why? Because each and every one will be ridiculously qualifying the single noun or lonely verb that they are lovingly attached to. This paragraph has the disease. It should have read:

Read the copy and delete the adjectives and adverbs. Not some; all. Why? Because each one will be qualifying the noun or verb they are attached to.

Self-editing sounds easy, but it takes getting used to. In my example, many of the excised words, in the themselves, are powerful, and flatter to deceive. But the minds of your website visitors are seeking a clear message that must strike home. Take my word for it, your message will be clear and have impact if you have the confidence to let nouns and verbs stand alone to convey your ideas. Make your website stand out from the herd.

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How to Write Good Copy for the Internet

How To Write Persuasive Copy For Your Website

If you are promoting a business, service or product via a website (or blog) you need to be interested in the subject of copy writing. The words you put into your website are an important aspect of the first impression you make on your visitors as they arrive on your website.

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What you write and where you put it can make the difference between an immediate exit or the first step towards making a purchase or at least a deeper look into the content you have, or should have thought carefully about during its construction.Writing for the web is not the same as writing for a book, newspaper or magazine. You will find a fickle and impatient audience on the web, with more choices than you can shake a stick at. So if visitors are going to stay on your site, you had better make sure it is worth their while arriving in the first place.

Rule One of Writing for the Web:

Hit your reader between the eyes in your first sentence. You are competing against hundreds, perhaps thousands of websites. So get on with it. State what you can do for the visitor: ‘We Help You Write That Book’, or Looking For Incredible Holidays? We’ve Got Them.’ Research indicates that potential customers browsing through websites make up their minds whether or not the site is for them in under ten seconds.

This should also tell you something else: if your website designers have persuaded you to fall for a graphically enchanting opening page that spends countless seconds showing a chicken laying an egg, or the dawn rising over Wapping, find a professional! These are amateurs, spending your money recklessly. The ‘landing page’ the first page visitors see on your website, should open immediately, and the prime message should appear at the top, either as a heading or as the first sentence of ‘the copy’, the words that communicate the message.

Rule Two of Writing for the Web:

Having made an opening claim on the page, don’t ruin things by veering off message and introducing other products or services you can offer, unless they directly bolster the initial claim made. In one of the examples above, if you initially say you help people write and publish books, for goodness’ sake don’t follow that powerful sentence with a second stating ‘. . . but if book writing is not for you we also show you how to become a proofreader!’ What on earth’s going on? The focus has departed, and so will your website visitor.

Rule Three of Writing for the Web:

Don’t try to be Shakespeare or Charles Dickens. Go for the shortest words possible, unadorned with adjectives and adverbs, that convey signals unambiguously: ‘Contact us today. Our designers are standing by.’ Excellent. Not, ‘As soon as we receive your enquiry one of our professional designers will email you within twenty-four hours so that you can explain precisely what your writing project is all about.’ What you’ve written may be valid, but it’s also long-winded and deflates the urgency of your appeal.

Rule Four of Writing for the Web:

Unless your business is set up to ‘sell off the website page’ and you intend to seduce visitors to make an instant online purchase of a product or service when they reach the end of your pitch, don’t waste words on trying to sell anything. Why? Because unless you are selling off the page, you are overlooking the one thing that has to happen first before you can do business with potential clients: they have to decide whether you are a worthy potential supplier of that product or service, and then they will need to contact you for further details. So make it easy for them to do just that. Which takes us to . . .

Rule Five of Writing for the Web:

Keep the opening page uncluttered. Make a single powerful claim, and back it up. By all means offer links to further pages that offer complementary products and services; but don’t start describing these as well because the focus of the prime message will evaporate, in seconds. If your website designers know their business they will have helped you identify your prime marketing objective, and then provided a website page that hits the right buttons. And these buttons should end the page, ideally a couple of large buttons, offering a choice of actions: ‘Click here’, for example, could enable them to instantly email you for further info; ‘Click there’, and they could receive further information on the product or service they seek. Words matter, as does the order in which they are introduced. Great websites have simple messages, well supported by graphics, that call on simple responses.

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Writing Websites – A Well Written Website Page Will Always Be More Successful

Well Written Websites are Well Designed Websites

So easy to overlook, the words (the copy), as you design your website. Astute businesspeople know that, no matter how graphically enticing their website may look, if the copy is illiterate, waffly, or just ill-considered they don’t work. Match a good-looking site with powerful copy, however, and your message can be worldwide in minutes, communicating succinctly.

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The tail has been wagging the dog for decades in Geekland. Most people nowadays own a computer that has sufficient fire-power to run a multi-national enterprise. Yet many people, too, find difficulty in doing much more than send the occasional email or look up the odd thing on Google. The honest among us own up to this; in commerce, most businesses are equally ignorant about the hold their computers exert over their enterprises and spend fortunes hiring experts to keep the damn things in check.

Websites, too, can bamboozle businesses. But that needn’t happen. Here are my tips to ensure you get value for money from your website investment. I pose the questions; you come up with the answers – then your website can be a site that knocks your competitors out of the ring.

What is the prime purpose of your website?

1. to act as a ‘visiting card’ – a list of people, addresses and contact points

2. an opportunity to describe who a person is, what they do; what a business is, what it does

3. to act as an advert for a person, service or product. The aim, to solicit enquires, or, . . .

4. to enable sales to be made instantly, off the webpage

Are you used to making words work for a living?

Copywriting is a skill, acquired over years, and requires not only a facility with words, but also an ability to communicate messages that motivate readers to act. For items 1 & 2 above, the descriptions required are not taxing. There’s not much scope for using words carelessly and creating the wrong impression. Items 3 & 4, however, require both copywriting ability and a knowledge of the market you intend to work within. Every word on the website will either work for you, or against you.

Will it be cost-efficient for you to seek sales via your website?

Website marketing can be inexpensive; an excellent source of sales. But costs can outrun profits unless you know how to construct your advertising copy – these important words again!

To summarise: a professional website designer will need great copy in order to convey your message in words and graphics. Getting the words right will take time, but will reap rewards. Remember, the graphics are the instant appeal, the words are the motivators. It’s prudent not to take them for granted.

If you really don’t think you can handle the copy then get in touch, outline what you are looking for and I can put you in touch with someone who can help you out at a reasonable cost.

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Web Marketing & SEO

Web marketing and SEO, is often a consideration that is made once the structure and aesthetics of a website design have been finalised. This is without doubt an error for anyone wishing to market their new website on the Internet via search engines.

SEO is also a constantly changing target and, for new webmasters, one which can be quite difficult to grasp, especially whilst trying to come to terms with all the other aspects of owning a new website. Compounding the problem is what appears to be Google’s war on anyone that tries to optimise their website so that it is more easily found by search engines and returned in their search results.

The truth is that Google and other search engines do appreciate the time and effort webmasters put into optimising their websites, but with a great big proviso! Which is that they do it by the rules, using white hat techniques, and do not try to game the system in an attempt to fool them into believing a website discusses topics outside their actual content or is more popular and useful than it actually is.

Web Marketing & SEOTo help new websmasters,  I have written and published a Web Marketing & SEO for Beginners guide to the use of SEO (search engine optimisation) as an accompaniment to my first book on Website Design.

It is a more in depth look at the SEO & marketing through the Internet side of things and it’s sub-title is very aptly called Google Dos and Google Don’ts. Quite simply because there are activities described that will help you in appealing to the search engine masters, i.e. search engine optimization they like, and other activities that most certainly will not help your cause and are more likely to result in your website being cast into eternal obscurity.

The main Topics Covered in the Web Marketing Guide

  • Website copy and content
  • Search Engine Accessibility
  • Website Load Speeds
  • Creating Great Content
  • How Much Content is Enough Content
  • Formatting and Layout of Content
  • Keyword Optimisation
  • Finding Keywords for Your Niche
  • Meta Tags – Which Are Important?
  • Sub-Domains or Directories
  • Page Rank Sculpting
  • Link building strategies
  • Google Recommendations
  • Article Marketing
  • Guest Blogging and Posting
  • Community Websites
  • Reciprocal Linking
  • Blog Commenting
  • Forum Participation
  • Buying Links
  • Negative SEO
  • Websites for Mobiles
  • Website Performance Monitoring
  • Social Media Signals

There is of course some overlap with the original web design guide because anyone considering web marketing, as mentioned previously, should be applying design features that account for SEO as the design is actually being developed.

Once the website is published on the Internet however, there is much more that can and needs to be done to ensure that the website can receive some free organic traffic via the search engines. There will always be people that game the system and if they can get away with it, who can blame them, it’s a very competitive world. But Google et al are becoming much more adept at spotting the techniques used and are putting a lot of resources into countering those techniques. The result is that the little fish who haven’t got the resources of large national companies often become collateral damage, sometimes because they just don’t know the difference between the right and wrong ways to optimise.

So now there is no excuse for a small fee you can use this concise guide to avoid the pitfalls that many new and even experienced webmasters fall into. You can buy the book here.

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A Website Design Guide for Beginners

Website Design GuideFor many people the thought of getting a website published for themselves or perhaps to represent a small business they are operating looks fraught with potential technical problems. And let’s not beat about the bush, there are technical aspects to designing a website that can be quiet daunting for a non-technical person or sometimes even for a relatively competent technical person.

That is why there are people that can be employed to take on the task on your behalf and at a relatively low cost. Trouble is that you do need to have an idea of what is required and to know what it takes to put together a website that actually functions and, if you want it to, gets found by search engines.

This Website Design Guide does exactly that, but in a language that is jargon free and easy to understand. Probably the easiest way of describing what topics the book covers is by listing the Table of Contents.

  • Part one
  • What are the costs of designing a website?
  • What do you want your website to do for you?
  • The way it looks – style
  • What it does – functionality?
  • Finding your way around the website
  • How to make Google your best friend – on page optimisation
  • Ensuring a website fits all standard computer screens
  • How to ensure you can update your own content easily
  • Maintaining a uniform look
  • Using flexible web pages to make adding content easier
  • Registering a domain name
  • Hosting your website
  • How Google ranks your website – off-page search engine optimization
  • Website performance
  • Benefits of a well-designed website
  • Briefing a designer
  • Part two
  • Website costs from a designer perspective
  • Website or blog?
  • Taking a static web design approach
  • Using flexible web pages to make adding content easier
  • Optimising website pages – the technical perspective
  • Organising your information for your website
  • How to put your website on the Internet
  • Reference Information

Part one is essentially for anyone that wants to understand website design in relatively simple terms, so that they can discuss their requirements with a website designer.

Part Two is more geared to the have a go technically competent person that wants to get his hands dirty by designing his own website. This can be done by either using a combination of HTML and CSS to create a very functional and easy to maintain static website or by utilising the WordPress blogging platform to create a blog or in fact a static website (this is very feasible using WordPress) adopting a content management system approach.

Obviously the second part is much more technically challenging and involves going through a learning process to familiarize yourself with the techniques needed. But there are references to some excellent training tutorials and techniques that illustrate the best approaches to creating a fluid website design that is easy to update and maintain.

Clearly I think that for anyone, who needs a website, this guide is invaluable. But then I did write it so I guess I may be a little biased 🙂 I am however prepared to take on board the opinions of others, so if anyone would like to review the book and let me know what they think or in fact if you would like a copy for free in exchange for an honest review, let me know via the contact us page.

You can purchase the book from and . Or if you use any of the other Amazon sites then just change the extension to suit your preferred site.

The book is also available in multiple formats and other main distributors of eBooks, visit the Website Design Guide page on eBookIssues for all the other options.

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