In our digital age, having a beautiful, mobile-friendly website is essential. It's how your dream customers will find you and where they'll go to learn more about what you do. But once you have their attention, how do you get them to stick around? When people's attention spans are shorter than ever, how do you get people to actually to read your website content?
The Website Copy Nightmare
If we're being honest here, website content is often a nightmare from both the small business owner and the designer's perspective. The client doesn't realize what a huge undertaking writing and collecting this content is, she's overwhelmed once she's in the thick of it, and has no idea what the designer has in mind for it.
What is she supposed to say? How should she say it so people actually keep reading? This results in a flustered effort to throw all the information out there with less than ideal results.
Typography can be just as visual and captivating as imagery.
Meanwhile, the designer imagines this perfectly curated, strategic content but what we end up seeing more often than not is a delayed schedule, an overwhelmed client, and eventually walls of text where concise, visually diverse content should be. These are the two ugly sides to the website content coin, but it doesn't have to be this way.
This will sound obvious, but the key to writing better content for your brand's website is to make it extremely readable. Remember, attention spans are shorter than ever, so you want to make reading your website a fun experience. Make it easy for your visitors to find the information they're looking for, tell them what they want to know, then tell them what's next. How can you do this? Make your text content more visual.
Getting Visual with Your Type
Chances are, if no one's reading your website it's because your content isn't inviting. Contrary to popular belief, beautiful branding, photography, and illustrations aren't the only ways to make your website an amazing visual experience. Typography can be just as visual and captivating as imagery, as long as you know the tricks to making it sing. Lucky for you, I'm here to let you in on these little secrets.
1. Heading Hierarchy
Headings are wonderful things. They act like an outline to show your readers what they can expect from your content, and they add visual interest. But did you know there's more than one kind? On most websites, you have three heading styles to work with ranging from your Heading 1 (h1 aka the biggest and most important) to Heading 3 (h3 aka the smallest and least important). You can see all mine right here:
Headings can make a world of difference in making your content both easier to scan (ideal in today's busy busy culture) and more pleasant to behold. Just take a look at how I'm using them in this post and throughout the rest of my website.
Think of your pages and your posts like an outline first and this will help you know where the proper headings should go. Remember, don't just consider the paragraphs when you write your website content. Use your headings and your subheadings too!
2. Shorter Paragraphs
Nothing sends a website visitor running for the hills like a dense wall of text, which essentially means a super long paragraph. Reading your website shouldn't be an intimidating task and it shouldn't feel like work.
Break those long paragraphs into smaller, more manageable chunks that range from 2-4 sentences. Occassionally you can even have one sentence all by itself, especially when it's for dramatic effect.
You want to give your reader lots of quick wins, make it easy to remember where they left off, and help them feel like they're making progress. So keep those paragraphs concise!
Every once in a while, it's great to break up the one-column structure of your website pages with multiple columns, when it makes sense. Notice how I do this on my About page to illustrate the values of my brand and how Creative Picnic uses columns to illustrate their services.
Columns break up the layout of your page to make the content more interesting, but they're also a great way to call special attention to sections of related content (like the values and services mentioned above). Not to mention, studies show that narrow columns of concise text are less intimidating to readers and cause less eye strain while reading, making them easier on the eyes in more ways than one.
4. Pull Quotes
Another piece of content that allows for some special styling is quotes. If you're including testimonials or other direct quotes on your website, that's an excellent place to pull those quotes out from your main text and give them the visual treatment they deserve. For example, notice how I do this in each of my blog posts by calling out a particular takeaway from the post.
Pulling out quotes makes your content more visually interesting but it also gives your audience a quick takeaway, providing value before they even read the whole page. Giving value on your website is essential, be it through wisdom, inspiration or simply by providing the information your audience needs in a concise, easy to access fashion.
5. Bullets & Numbered Lists
Bullets and numbered lists are another great way to get visual while organizing related information.
- They're easy to implement, with most web templates using tools very similar to your average word processor.
- They group content together and can even show an ordered sequence (think instructions, recipes, etc).
- They call attention to themselves and break up your content visually.
Links may not sound very exciting, but with a bit of styling they can be little gems that peek out from your content and catch your visitor's eye. Just don't make your audience fumble around for directions. If you're talking about a page or another website in your content, make their life easy and link to it.
Hyperlink Pro Tip
When linking text, it's better form to link the actual thing you're talking about instead of a “click here” or “right here.” Not only does linking this way make it easier for your user to scan the text and know where the link will take them, but it's also better for your site's SEO. Win win.
7. Calls to Action
The final, but arguably the most important, way to make your web content more visually interesting is by using a call to action (CTA). A simple yet amazing method for keeping someone on your site is simply to guide them through it.
When someone reaches the end of a section or page, what do you want them to do? Where should they go next? This is where CTAs come in.
Instead of just sprinkling a couple links in your body copy or assuming your website navigation will do the trick, tell your audience what to do next. Integrate a call to action with one of your heading styles and maybe even a button to up the visual ante.
You can see examples of calls to action on the bottom of pretty much all of my website pages. So whether you're telling your audience to get started, learn more, or get in touch, give them a guided tour through your site and tell them what their next step should be.
Don't Write content, Design it
It doesn't matter if you're not a designer. When you write the content for your brand, you're crafting it from scratch. You are the designer here, so think like one and get visual with your website copy.
If you're working with a designer for your site, make notes in your content to tell her where the headings, additional columns, calls to action, etc. should be. I guarantee she will be overjoyed to see that you've given this much thought to your web content and your website will benefit more than you can imagine as a result.
Remember, making your text content visual makes it easy for your visitors to scan your site and find what they're looking for. But it also makes your website more enjoyable to read, which keeps people on your website longer and makes them more likely to invest in your brand. And that's been our goal all along.