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Web Copywriting Tips
June 21, 2011 3:12 AM   Subscribe

What are your top tips and resources to help me write the most amazing website copy ever?

I'm a professional copywriter, but I've never done a website before. I now have to put together an eight-page website on a tradesman and his products. Assume that I could figure it out for myself, but that I'd really like any extra advice I can get.

The guy in question doesn't really know what he wants, which gives me free rein (don't worry, I've got that potential recipe for disaster under control). I know the basics of SEO, so that's not really an issue - I am looking for resources that are aimed at professionals who want to create amazing sites that are worth reading, not just get clicks. Any info appreciated, from deciding how to structure the website onwards.
posted by rubbish bin night to Writing & Language (9 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
It's like anything else: you have to tell a compelling story.

Why is this tradesman interesting? What thrills him about his products? Tell me, so I know too.
posted by orthogonality at 3:13 AM on June 21, 2011


The opinions and ideas about what works on the web are legion, but orthogonality has the core idea - you've got to tell a story.

Here's a good post on 37 Signals about the difference between two different sites both selling broadly the same thing - bags. The difference is in the story one tells versus the features list approach the other goes for.
posted by Happy Dave at 4:18 AM on June 21, 2011


The yahoo style guide might be worth a read. You can get a printed copy but it's also online at http://styleguide.yahoo.com/
posted by beyond_pink at 4:24 AM on June 21, 2011


I highly recommend this book. It will help you make a better website.

Letting Go of the Words: Writing Web Content that Works.
posted by ArcAm at 4:27 AM on June 21, 2011


Use about half as much copy as you would in print, with short paragraphs, bullets.
posted by radioamy at 5:35 AM on June 21, 2011


Hi, copywriter here. I have to respectfully disagree with orthagonality and Happy Dave. Depending on the product, stories can work well but generally for trades and services, people want the facts with very little embellishment. Most don't want to wade through reams of copy or find out why an electrician loves his job and what motivates him. State the services offered, and highlight any points of difference, eg, guaranteed to turn up within the hour etc.

Very short paragraphs or bullet points generally work well - all you're really after is to get them interested enough to pick up the phone or send off an email for a quote and then leave it to the tradesperson to close the deal, where the customer can ask questions in greater detail. Feel free to me-mail me if you need more.
posted by Jubey at 6:33 AM on June 21, 2011


Sure, it depends what the guy is selling. Custom cabinetry or hand-crafted toast racks, you're probably going to be looking for a more narrative led approach. Plumber? Just the facts ma'am.
posted by Happy Dave at 7:35 AM on June 21, 2011


I'm a fan of headings. Go ahead with the fancy bulleted lists if you must, but I want to know whether I'm looking at a list under the heading "services," (hence a list of services, presumably) or under the heading "Rates," etc...

Headings could also let you give a blurb about the tradesperson himself, which people can easily skip if they're in a rush.
posted by Net Prophet at 7:39 AM on June 21, 2011


Make sure that the people who came looking for a specific bit of information can get it easily. This means location, phone number, email address, availability, price, right on the front page.
posted by primer_dimer at 4:32 AM on June 22, 2011


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