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How to get rid of that boring text on your website

Jason Fried recently had an article in Inc Magazine titled “Why is Business Writing So Awful.” A great read that I strongly recommend. We design a lot of business websites each month, and too often, the writing provided by the client can be an afterthought… stuff used to fill an empty space on a page.

Author: Jeremy Harrison

Updated: May 24, 2010

Jason Fried recently had an article in Inc Magazine titled “Why is Business Writing So Awful.”  A great read that I strongly recommend.

We design a lot of business websites each month, and too often, the writing provided by the client can be an afterthought… stuff used to fill an empty space on a page.  Jason shares a few great examples of people who take pride in their writing.  One such example is Woot.com.   Whenever I encounter a site like Woot, I can’t help but smile.  And I can’t help but read more.

If your website is full of cliches… if you find it boring to read… if it sounds a lot like the verbiage on your competitors’ websites… than consider starting over.

Here are a few pointers to get the best results in your writing:

  1. Say everything you need to say.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.
    Are you using words to merely fill up space?  If so, it’s time to delete it.  Start over with a blank canvas, and figure out what you need to say to describe your products & services.  Don’t add extra stuff unless it helps your prospective customer.   Yet don’t be bashful about creating as much content as is necessary.  Think about the questions your prospective customers ask, and then attempt to answer them as clearly as possible.
  2. Forget what you learned about writing in college.
    I learned a lot in college. But when it was time to be an effective marketer, I had to UN-LEARN most of what I was taught about writing in college.  Professors demand stuffy, complex sentences with big words.  The rest of the world refuses to read this stuff.  Try to write with short, punchy sentences.  Keep it informal.  Pretend you’re sitting at a bar next to a good friend… telling them what you do over a beer.  Now use this same informal tone in your writing.
  3. Are you good at talking about your products & services?  Make the most of it.
    If you’re good at talking about your products & services, then make a recording of you talking about it.  This could be used as a video on your site.  And/or it could be used as ideas for somebody else to write in a way that reflects the personality and style of your company.  This leads to my final suggestion…
  4. Recognize your strengths.
    If writing is not your strong suit, you can always hire a pro.  But be careful in who you hire.  If they wrote flawless papers in college, they may be the WORST choice to write for your website, as explained in #2 above.  Other writers are good enough to adapt their writing style for the audience.  Just make sure you read their samples.  If you find yourself smiling while reading their work, you may have the right person for the job.  I don’t have time to write for many folks, but I have a couple peers who do great work.  Let me know if you need help finding the right person.

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