Horses for courses - why web copy is different to print copy

The perceived value of copy has gone down over the last 10 years since the emergence of the Internet. The perception is that copy is cheap and that what was once considered a genuine skill is no more than a collection of key words, key phrases and Ad words.

Of course, organisations that are really prospering from exposure via their websites know that website copy does not just have to be technically good, it also has to be well-written in the old fashioned sense. That does not mean well-written in the same way that a brochure or leaflet may be well-written, it means well-written for the web.

Brochures, catalogues and magazines are often flicked through by readers from back to front; if an article is interesting it will be read just as a novel is read. But reading from the screen is different. People are looking for bit-sized chunks of information and if there is a link in the middle of a paragraph, the viewer will not get to the end of the paragraph before clicking the link.

If you are not careful with your links you can take people deep into your website and help them forget the reason for their visit in the first place, especially if an external link takes them on to a fresh site entirely.

The secret to holding a potential customer and getting that customer to contact you is to come straight to the point. A brochure has a look, feel and smell but a website just has a look and a back button for returning to the searcher to the list of search engine results.

Therefore, when a customer lands on your home page it is vitally important for the headline and the first paragraph to grab the viewer’s attention. Paragraphs are single sentences, two at the most and written in simple English. Now is not the time to show off your thesaurus.

The simpler your copy, the easier it is to read, the quicker the viewer will press the ‘Contact’ button. Keeping website copy direct is the key to converting visits to customers.

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