Keep it simple (but not stupid)

Let’s face it, we could all do with some editing.  We talk too much.  We buy too much.  We eat too much.  We write too much…

Well, most of us don’t write at all, unless someone is paying us to do it. And when it comes to the web, you’re probably getting paid to NOT write.

Words and sentences on the web are only there for one reason — to sell a product or service.  Anything that doesn’t move the customer along the path to purchase or provide a call to action are just obstacles (or, as one web marketer calls them, “furniture”).

Remember, website visitors don’t actually read.  They scan — moving their eyes across the page and down the page (usually from the left to right and top to bottom).  Like a teenager at a scary movie, they’re waiting for something to jump out at them.  And they won’t wait long.

Here are a few ways to keep them watching the screen — your screen:

Write a sentence 
Read it back — out loud.  If it’s too hard to say, it’s probably too hard to read.  Find those unneeded words and terminate them with extreme prejudice.

Write the way people talk 
Don’t be afraid begin sentences with “And” or “But” and “Or.”  Your grade school English teacher won’t know and your readers will thank you.

Say what you mean
Short sentences.  Short paragraphs.  Short words. Simple ideas. Isn’t this easy?

Busy executives are used to receiving boiled-down summaries of what they need to know.  Try bolded headers and short graphs (like above). Your prospective customers are busy too.  Respect their time as you would the suit down the hall.

Pretend you are telling a story to someone with only a couple minutes to listen.  Ignore the non-essential details. Summarize the key points.  And for heaven’s sake, make it interesting.  Your audience should know enough but still be curious about learning more…when they have time.

Bullet points (and numbered lists) will:

Make the page more scanable
Take up less space
Simplify your message
Force you to be brief

A useful journalistic adage: “Tell them you’re going to tell them. Then tell them. Then tell them you told them.”







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