Generating content for a new website is easily the least glamorous part of any new web design project. The development time for a new website design project can range from 6-16 weeks or more and it’s all too easy to put off the writing in favour of more glamorous tasks.
A quick poll of our web clients (and the experience of building many, many websites) has led us to a few simple tricks that help enormously when you’re trying to get great content written on time.
1 - Start Early
The sooner you start writing, the sooner you’ll have it done, and your web developers will thank you for it too! As web designers we have to put 'place holder' text (like Lorium Ipsum) into web pages while developing a new site. That’s OK, but it’s no substitute for real text. When we get real text web designers have an understanding of the “feel” and “voice” of the text and can choose images and layout to suit. This means a better-balanced page with more interest for your website visitors.
2 - Divide and Conquer
In small companies website copy will often be generated by just one person, usually the owner or Marketing Manager. In large companies it might be the same situation with a copywriter being used. But with medium size companies a number of writers are often asked to contribute and help spread the load. This is a great idea as differing knowledge, expertise or opinion can really help to stop a site sounding dull and /or boring. But…
3 - Decide on a 'Voice' First
By 'voice' we mean the character and language of the text on the site. Imagine you’re a journalist writing copy for The Times newspaper. The Times has a very distinct 'voice' to their copy, you might call it “intelligent”, “formal”, “educated” or something simlar. Now imagine you’re writing for The Sun or a 'Lads Mag' and the voice used will be quite different!
While a company’s 'voice' will often take time to develop it’s vital to have an agreed approach when more that one writer is contributing to content that isn’t opinion based. Have a think about your company, what is does and who it’s customers are. Your “voice” should always represent your company’s brand but must also speak to its readers in an appropriate style. While text on the web can often be less formal that in other mediums, it must never misrepresent the company that it comes from.
4 - Adapt and Re-purpose
Most companies have a range of text already available. Brochures, articles, blogs and even business plans can all be good sources of text which, if adapted correctly, can be useful in a website design or redesign project. Old website text can be brought up to date but fresh, properly written text is always the aim.
Don’t be tempted to steal or even copy & paste text from others sites though. For one thing you’re likely to be infringing copyright plus the search engines may downgrade your site for having duplicate content.
5 - Write for the Web
Web readers are different animals to those that might our over a brochure or business plan. Attention span is short, links to other places are begging to be clicked meaning your visitors will respond to drawn-out, verbose text by leaving you site. Keep sentences short, points clear and always make sure your text features the keywords you’d like your site referenced by. Short, well written text encourages readers to stay in touch by revisiting your site or, more importantly, sharing your site via Social Networks.
So there you have it, just a few quick tips on getting your content written. If you’d like to know more why not get in touch? We’re here to help.