4 Ways to Avoid Sloppy Copy on Your Website

February 19, 2015

Around here, we talk a lot about content strategy and how important it is to a successful website redesign. While “content strategy” refers to a much bigger umbrella than copy alone, copy is incredibly important when it comes to communicating your story, your offer, and your value. It works in conjunction with your site’s layout, photography, typography, and other components to offer site visitors an engaging experience that drives them to take action.

Avoiding sloppy copy helps ensure your message resonates with visitors, in turn helping fulfill your business goals. To make sure you steer clear of the sloppy copy trap, follow these easy rules.

1. Get to the Point

No one likes feeling as if the person they are talking with is beating around the bush. It’s the same for you website copy. Your site visitors are seeking out specific pieces of information and want to be able to find what they are looking for with ease. Excess words and phrases are more time consuming and are often more confusing than helpful. Do your site visitor a favor and get to the point quickly by:

  • Rewording or reworking your copy so it is more direct and relevant
  • Presenting clear calls-to-action
  • Talking about features and benefits in a way that informs and educates

2. Stay Away from Jargon and Too Many Keywords

Organizations tend to have their own internal language, many of which employ tons of abbreviations or acronyms that are understood only by the people who use them. If you’re website is littered with copy that includes this type of internal jargon, your visitor probably doesn’t know what you’re talking about.

Using too many keywords can cause the same problem. Of course you want your website pages to be optimized for search engines, but peppering your copy with an overabundance of keywords can make it more confusing and seem of low quality to readers. When you’re writing with SEO in mind, write the copy first and add the keywords in later. For more tips, check out these best practices for SEO copywriting.

3. Stay Consistent In Structure and Style

The structure of your website copy should feel logical to your visitors, with a consistent voice, tone, pattern, and style across the site. The use of page tables and templates can help bring consistency to your copy, and they are especially useful for keeping websites with multiple contributors the same structure throughout. Implementing a style guide that can be easily referenced is the best way to keep a consistent style across your website.

4. Adhere to Best Practices for Writing for the Web

A good foundation for any copy is clean use of grammar and punctuation, and while sometimes it’s hard to remember all those rules you learned in English class so many years ago, expert tips are out there waiting for you to read.

Beyond the basics and best practices, you’ll want to consider formatting and be sure to check out what folks who are happy to share are doing to improve their copy.

One more thing to think about when it comes to your copy is A/B testing. If you really want to find out which copy is most effective for your website, create two versions and a test plan that helps you determine the best way to communicate with your site visitors.

Avoiding sloppy copy sounds like a no-brainer, but it somehow manages to find its way into countless websites – no doubt you’ve come across plenty of examples – but your website need not fall victim. By following these tips and staying vigilant, you can keep your site free of sloppy copy for good.

Want more tips for creating a killer content strategy? Check out:
From Mess to Success: How Content Strategy Can Save Your Web Project
Content Considerations for a Responsive Web Design
After Your Website Redesign: Planning for Day Two -- and Beyond

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