Writing Web Pages: Get To The Meat Faster
Much of my consulting work comprises writing 'Outside Opinion' reports on the sites of large companies and organizations. Sometimes I review just a few pages, sometimes fifty or more.
I'm just finishing one up now and have recognized a thread that is common to many of reports.
Here is what I have noticed: On many sites we are too slow to 'get to the meat'. Too much rambling and introduction on each page.
One of the things I do in each report is create some 'copywriter layouts' of key site pages. I do my critique, and then provide some sample page designs to give the client an idea of how I see each page; the key messages, the key actions etc.
But here's the thing: I create just the first screen, not the whole page.
And within that first screen I make sure that everything that NEEDS to be said is said. I make sure the key messages are prominent. And I include one or more directions or calls-to-action.
How do I manage to get all the important points within one screen? I focus on what the visitor is expecting and hoping to find on the page. For that first screen I spend a lot of time trying to anticipate the frame of mind of the visitor. I know they are coming to the page with some task in mind. They are looking for something, some kind of answer. I either provide the answer as high up on the page as possible, or give clear choices and direction to help them click through to where they'll find what they want.
When you look at it that way, one screen isn't such a small space. It becomes small only when too much attention is given to promoting, explaining and applauding the company or organization. It becomes crowded when too many stakeholders are fighting for space.
And yes, I provide links starting with active verbs and get them into that first screen as well.
If someone finds what they want right there, I want to allow them to click through without having to scroll and search.
If someone is still one or two levels away from finding what they need, I want to get them on their way as quickly as possible.
When you keep the visitor at the front of your mind...when you recognize and understand what they are looking for...you'll serve them best by getting to the 'meat' as quickly as possible and providing them with the links they need.
Article Resource: Find out more about my Outside Opinion service here.
Nick Usborne is a copywriter, author, speaker and advocat of good writing. You can access all his archived newsletter articles on copywriting and writing for the web at his Excess Voice site. You'll find more articles and resources on how to make money as a freelance writer at his Freelance Writing Success site.
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