Where to start with website copywriting: 7 crucial questions to ask before you begin

Whether you’re a start-up creating your first website, or an established business embarking on a website refresh or full-on rebrand, you need copy and content. Website copywriting – it’s enough to strike fear into the most eloquent of writers.

By the final sentence, you’ll know all you need to get started – whether you plan to write it yourself or bring in a professional copywriter. (And in case you’re not sure why it’s not a good idea to DIY your website copy, take a read of this…)

Before we get started with copy and content, let’s take a minute to check you’ve got your website fundamentals in order. If you’re happy that your foundations are tiptop, skip straight to the 7 key questions.

When we approached Jenny to help us with a brand new website, we were still formulating ideas and couldn’t fix on the right approach. Jenny helped us understand what would be important for customers and investors and took us through a smooth, well-managed process.
Joanne Edwards - Temporal
Joanne Edwards
Founder + Chief Operating Officer

Website pages: Create some structure and order your thoughts

Perhaps you have a lot to say or maybe you’re lost for words. Either way, outlining the structure of your site will help to organise your thoughts. I’m very rarely stuck for words. However, there are times when I have so many that I need to instil some order.

Define your web pages

When I visit a website I make a beeline for the Homepage – the ‘shop window’. I swiftly move on to the About page – one of the most visited pages on any site, and often the most underutilised. If I like what I read, I browse the Services or Products pages. And if the copy has done enough to convince me, I go to the Contact page too.

Set the foundations

These pages form the foundation of your website – your site structure.  Other pages to consider including are ‘Testimonials‘ – for that all-important social proof, ‘Blog‘ – one of the driving forces behind your Google ranking and a key engagement tool, ‘Portfolio‘ – to evidence your talent, and other pages relevant to your business.

Instinctive website navigation: Avoid deliberation

It’s safe to say that we’re all fairly savvy when it comes to finding our way around the pages of a website. However you choose to label your web pages, your visitors are likely to know the type of information sitting behind it.

Regardless, make it as easy as possible to navigate around your site, make it instinctive. Just a few seconds of deliberation can mean the difference between your visitor staying on your site and moving on to your competitor.

Stick to simple page titles

In fact, use one word wherever possible: Home, About, Contact and so on. User experience is on many radars right now and rightly so – but beware, this is the very tip of the iceberg.

Website copywriting and website design: Putting pen and pencil to paper

But which comes first? As a professional copywriter I love words, but the answer is neither. For the most efficient site, and by that I mean one that achieves its purpose, it must be a collaborative process.

The website content and design should bring out the best in one another. The words amplified by the aesthetics and the design brought to life by the narrative.

The way we read a website is very different from how we read everything else too. Think about how you browse a web page. If you’re like most people, you’ll scan the contents. And because we don’t read web pages word for word, the design matters.

Layout and formatting matter for your message to be seen and understood, quickly and at a glance

Useful, relevant, short sentences and paragraphs will enhance the reader experience. Use easy-to-understand words and fewer of them (unless your product and audience require technical detail). Headings and subheadings are crucial.

The nitty gritty of writing websites: The 7 key questions

I always begin with seven fundamental questions. They’re as relevant to the design as they are to the website copy. Everything else you need to consider will become obvious as you work through them – such as technical elements and the extent of your SEO requirements.

1. What’s the purpose of your website?

Is it your online brochure, a lead generator, your online store? The answer will inform a number of factors, from concept, design and content to SEO activity.

2. Who are you trying to reach?

The answer should form the basis of all your marketing. Understanding your audience is key to attracting their attention, engaging with them and moving them from browser to buyer. Think about demographics, lifestyle, purchasing habits, problems, triggers and motivations. This process is often referred to as creating ‘personas’.

3. What problem are you trying to solve for your customers?

Your service or product will solve a problem for your customer (and if it doesn’t, you need to go back to the drawing board). Let the reader know that you feel their pain and present them with a solution. And show them why it’s the best.

4. How do you want your readers to feel and what action do you want them to take?

This question should be asked for every page you create. The answer is likely to be different for each.

Perhaps you want them to sign up to your email list or contact you. Maybe you’d like them to see you as an authority on your subject, increase their trust in you, buy your product online or follow you on social media –the list goes on.

To move your visitors to take action, you need to be clear what it is you’d like them to do. Then give them a way to do it – add a call to action. For example, an online form, a one-click option to contact you or follow you on social media. Above all, make it quick and easy to do.

5. What’s your unique selling proposition?

Avoid getting lost in the crowd by being clear on what sets you apart from the competition.

6. What are your company values?

Innovation, teamwork, customer commitment, quality etc. What are the values that drive your behaviour as a company? They should weave their way through your copy.

7. What’s your brand tone, look and feel?

Whether or not you have a set of formal brand guidelines, it’s important to consider the personality of your brand. There’s no need to overthink it, but do give it some thought.

Branding goes beyond the logo and corporate colours. As Jeff Bezos, CEO and Founder of Amazon puts it, “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room”. So make sure your values run through everything you write, say and do.

By now you should feel more confident about where to begin with writing your website copy. But keep in mind that your website is a key marketing tool for your business. It’s an investment in the success of your organisation. A professional website copywriter will pay for themselves many times over with words that convert your ideal clients into customers.

Want hardworking website copy?

If you have a project in mind or are still on the fence about whether a freelance copywriter is right for your business, get in touch, I’d love to hear from you.

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