A guide to better copy writing for your website

First off, we’re excited about your involvement in writing the copy for your website. To help you be as successful as you can, we thought we’d share a few key things that we’ve observed over the years–some general guidelines for writing and editing copy that should help you create better content for your site.
Microphone, but just one of them

Use a single person’s voice:

If at all possible, have one person write all the copy for your site. This might mean having various members write copy and then choosing one person to rewrite others’ copy. This is important because it creates a unified voice and makes for a more consistent user experience.
Person sleeping to give an idea some time before publishing

Set up a good process

If you can avoid it, don’t publish the same day you write. Give yourself a least a day to let it rest. Then review and edit before it goes live.
Large hand holding a pencil under decorations

Have a clear goal

Before you start to write, simply jot down what you want to achieve with the copy you’re about to write.
Nerd using buzzwords and jargon but it just doesn't make sense

Avoid Jargon

We all do it – using those twenty-five cent words that make us sound like experts. If there’s a more simple way to say it, then say it that way. Instead of “deploying a communication platform” maybe try “using online chat”.
Two parallel lines flying into the sky

Be consistent

If you refer to your site’s visitors as “users” instead of “customers” then be sure you always refer to them the same way.
DCUX crossed out because it's an acronym

Avoid abbreviations and acronyms

They may be shorter, but they aren’t necessarily more clear. Some exceptions where it’s okay to use them are dates, times, places, numbers, common technical terms, and formats (CD, DVD, JPG, etc).
Bar graph showing how someone is making it rain by using better calls to action

Better Calls-to-action

For calls-to-action start with a verb and keep it under five words. Instead of labeling a button with “More Info About Our Products and Services” try “Discover our Products & Services”, or even better, “Learn more”.
Two links in a chain together as one

For linked text, include descriptive info in the list.

Instead of saying “To learn more about our suite of business intelligence products, click here.” try, “We offer a full suite of business intelligence products.” – It’s better for SEO and is easier to scan.
Cartoon smiley face that is waving to you

Be friendly

The web can be a tricky place for users to navigate. They make mistakes and get confused. Treat you visitors with a friendly tone at all times.
Profile view of a fancy poodle dog

Think about context and content

Does what you’re saying correspond to other pieces of content on the page? If you’re adding text right next to a screenshot, that text better have something to do with the screenshot.
Letter 'T' overlapping the corner of a box

Keep your headlines short and active

Use short, active phrases or sentences for headlines. Instead of “We’re working to build a vibrant community” try “We’re building vibrant community.”
Open book with a pair of glasses over it

Proofread.

Simply put, we’d be negligent if we didn’t say this. Check for typos as well as inaccurate word use (they’re/there/their) which software isn’t great at checking for.
Bullet point list

Think short copy with lists:

In general, approach the copy for your site as if nobody is going to read it. With this in mind, you’ll write less and make it more succinct which is a good thing. Also, consider using lists as much as you can without sacrificing readability. Chunking information out like this helps visitors easily scan content to find the information they are looking for.
Typewriter

Consider some tools.

Hemmingway is a great (free) web app that gives you instant feedback on the quality of your writing. Check out Product Hunts Tools for Writers collection for more ideas.

If you'd like to chat about this article or learn more about working with Design Commission, please contact us.