How to Write Effective Web Copy - Fowa Miami 2009

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How to Write Effective Web Copy - Fowa Miami 2009

  1. How!To!Write! Effective!Web!Copy Kristina!Halvorson!!!|!!!FOWA!Miami!!!|!!!02.23.2009
  2. Yes.!Hello. • I’m!Kristina!Halvorson. • I’m!the!President!of!Brain!Traffic!(Minneapolis,!MN). • I’m!an!author.!In!theory.! – Content!Strategy!for!the!Web! (New!Riders!Voices!That!Matter,!Summer!2009) • Thanks!for!having!me!in!Miami.!In!February. FOWA!Miami!!|!!02.23.2009!!|!2
  3. And!you!are!… ? • Name • Employer/Role • Why!you’re!here • One!thing!that!someone!might!not!guess!about!you FOWA!Miami!!|!!02.23.2009!!|!3
  4. Here’s!the!deal!for!today. 1:30quot;1:45pm We’ll!talk!about!“effective!web!copy.” 1:45quot;2:30pm We’ll!talk!about!how!to!plan!for!copy. 2:30quot;4:30pm We’ll!discuss: ! Substance ! Structure ! Style 4:30quot;5:00pm We’ll!wrap!with!collaborative,!freequot;forquot;all!Q&A. FOWA!Miami!!|!!02.23.2009!!|!4
  5. Suggestions. • Use!paper,!not!your!laptop. • Get!up!when!you!need!to. • Stop!me!for!questions. • Don’t!make!fun!if!you!hear!my!Minnesotan!accent. FOWA!Miami!!|!!02.23.2009!!|!5
  6. What exactly is “effective PART!ONE web copy”?
  7. Effective!web!copy!… ! DELIGHTS ! SATISFIES ! HELPS!ME!DO!SOMETHING FOWA!Miami!!|!!02.23.2009!!|!7
  8. Delight!me. • Be!personable. • Share!secrets. • Surprise!me. • Reward!me. • Entertain!me. • Make!my!life!easier,!right!now. FOWA!Miami!!|!!02.23.2009!!|!8
  9. FOWA!Miami!!|!!02.23.2009!!|!9
  10. Satisfy!me. • Know!what!I!want,!and!show!me!you!do. • Make!it!easy. • Deliver!on!your!promises. • If!you!make!a!mistake,!admit!it. • Be!consistent. • Get!out!of!my!way. FOWA!Miami!!|!!02.23.2009!!|!12
  11. Help!me!do!something. • Educate!me!… quickly. • Suggest!alternatives!or!addquot;ons!… but!don’t!shove! them!down!my!throat. • Prompt!me!… in!context. • Warn!me!… but!don’t!freak!me!out. FOWA!Miami!!|!!02.23.2009!!|!16
  12. Effective!web!copy!… ! Communicates!SUBSTANCE!quickly!and!clearly. ! Is!communicated!in!a!STRUCTURE!that!provides!me!with!the! necessary!context!to!act!with!confidence.! ! Is!written!in!a!STYLE that’s!personable,!respectful,!and!the! embodiment!of!your!brand!values. FOWA!Miami!!|!!02.23.2009!!|!21
  13. How To Plan for Web Copy PART!TWO (or, “Content Strategy”)
  14. My!favorite!web!copy!myths. • “We!can!figure!it!out!later.” • “The!copy!shouldn’t!be!that!big!of!a!deal.” • “We!already!pretty!much!know!what!we!want!to!say.” • “We!already!have!most!of!the!content.” • “I!should!be!able!to!take!care!of!most!of!this!myself.” FOWA!Miami!!|!!02.23.2009!!|!23
  15. To: Kristina Halvorson Sent: Wednesday, May 14, 2008 3:21 PM Subject: RE: hey there! … This is a very large client who is building a site using a number of different agencies. When it came to the content discussion the room just threw their hands up in the air (literally and figuratively) because no one had said they’d be responsible. The site is going to be very content heavy and they want to launch July 15. Interested? FOWA!Miami!!|!!02.23.2009!!|!24
  16. SRSLY, PPL. FOWA!Miami!!|!!02.23.2009!!|!25
  17. Writing!is!hard. Writing!for!the!web!is!a!bitch. • Write!for!online!readers • Define!requirements • Plan!workflow • Agree!on!editorial!standards:!voice,!tone,!usage,!format • Schedule!updates • Find!all!the!“other” content FOWA!Miami!!|!!02.23.2009!!|!26
  18. CONTEXT USERS Userquot;centered!design!!!!!!!!!!!!!User!experience!!!!!!!!!!!!!User!testing ORGANIZING!INFORMATION PUBLISHING!CHANNELS Business!strategy PUSH Content!model Static/dynamic Information!architecture Multichannel!delivery COLLABORATIONS Vocabulary!control Print Blogs Categorization/classification Web ASSEMBLING! Wikis Interface/interaction!design PDA/cell VERSIONS Forums PDF Versioning Mailing!lists Email Version!control WORKFLOW!RULES Personalization CRM Content!types Localization Business!rules Templates Contact!info Rights!management Policies/procedures Navigation Access!control PULL Roles/responsibilities Multilingual LDAP Syndication Content!owners! Compliance User!databases Web!services Editors/publishers Reuse Search!enging DATABASES!+! Rollback Ecommerce REPOSITORIES Content!databases CREATE!AND!EDIT File!system ARCHIVE!+!DESTROY Authoring Native!XML Retention!policy Capture/collect Documents Knowledge!base Acquisition Records Conversion Images/multimedia Aggregation Data!warehouses Ingestion/DRM Legacy!systems Editing!Tools Metadata!Tagging Library!Services cmsreview.com/stages FOWA!Miami!!|!!02.23.2009!!|!27
  19. Writers!don’t!have!the!tools!to!deal. • Articles • Menu!items • Buttons • Link!naming • Error!messages • Task!instructions • Search!returns • Metadata FOWA!Miami!!|!!02.23.2009!!|!28
  20. Before!you!start!writing!… • Do!an!audit. • Create!a!content!inventory. • Do!a!gap!analysis. • Create!a!style!guide. FOWA!Miami!!|!!02.23.2009!!|!29
  21. The!audit • What!copy!do!I!need? • What!other!copy!do!I!need? • Speaking!of!which,!where!do!I!need!copy? • Also,!is!there!more!copy!I!need? FOWA!Miami!!|!!02.23.2009!!|!30
  22. The!content!inventory FOWA!Miami!!|!!02.23.2009!!|!31
  23. The!gap!analysis • What’s!missing? • Where!can!I!get!it? • When!do!I!need!it? FOWA!Miami!!|!!02.23.2009!!|!32
  24. The!style!guide • Brand!values • Voice!and!tone!guidelines • Usage!guidelines!(like,!“the!Web” not!“the!web”) • Recurring!textual!elements • Legal!requirements FOWA!Miami!!|!!02.23.2009!!|!33
  25. The!style!guide:!Example All!copy!should!sound:! • Clear!and!easy!to!follow:!Keep!writing!brief,!clean,!and!toquot;thequot;point.! Use!crisp!language.!Introduce!your!point!early!without!complicated! language!or!lengthy!clauses.! • Engaging!and!casual: Write!the!way!our!customers!converse!with!family! and!friends.!Use!warm!language!and!a!strong,!descriptive!style.! • Upbeat!and!encouraging:!Speak!in!terms!of!users’ interests,!goals,!and! challenges.!Use!active,!forwardquot;looking!statements.!Present!solutions! and!ideas!in!a!positive,!informative!manner.! FOWA!Miami!!|!!02.23.2009!!|!34
  26. The!style!guide:!Example FOWA!Miami!!|!!02.23.2009!!|!35
  27. Substance PART!THREE
  28. Getting!at!substance!(the!“what”) • What!do!you!NEED!to!say? ...!to!support!the!successful!attainment!of!user!goals • What!do!you!WANT!to!say? … to!meet!your!own!business!objectives FOWA!Miami!!|!!02.23.2009!!|!37
  29. Structure PART!FOUR
  30. Your!mission • Get!out!of!your!user’s!way. • Two!books!that!talk!about!this!brilliantly: – Designing!the!Obvious by!Robert!Hoekman,!Jr. – Don’t!Make!Me!Think by!Steve!Krug FOWA!Miami!!|!!02.23.2009!!|!45
  31. Being!smart!about!structure!(the!“where”) • Where!should!this!copy!appear!on!the!page? FOWA!Miami!!|!!02.23.2009!!|!46
  32. FOWA!Miami!!|!!02.23.2009!!|!49
  33. Being!smart!about!structure!(the!“when”) • When!should!this!copy!appear!in!the!application!design? – To!support!successful!task!completion – To!influence!behavior • How!will!this!copy!impact!the!user’s!attitude? – I!want!to!get!in,!get!this!done,!get!out – I!need!help!making!a!choice FOWA!Miami!!|!!02.23.2009!!|!51
  34. FOWA!Miami!!|!!02.23.2009!!|!52
  35. FOWA!Miami!!|!!02.23.2009!!|!55
  36. One millllllllllllllllllllion dollars
  37. Style PART!FIVE
  38. All!great!web!writing!is!… • Personable • Clear • Concise • Respectful • Customerquot;facing FOWA!Miami!!|!!02.23.2009!!|!64
  39. Often,!crappy!web!writing!is!… • Overwritten • Lazy!about!spelling!and!grammar • Lacking!focus • Hard!to!act!upon • All!about!you FOWA!Miami!!|!!02.23.2009!!|!65
  40. Rethink!your!approach. • NO – What!do!I!want!to!tell!you? – What!do!I!want!you!to!understand? – What!do!I!wish!you!would!do? – How!can!I!make!you!care? • YES – What!do!you!want!to!know? – What!do!you!need!to!do? – What!do!you!need!to!feel!comfortable!and!smart? – What!do!you!care!about!… really? FOWA!Miami!!|!!02.23.2009!!|!66
  41. Let’s!do!the!Top!10!List!thing. • Because!everyone!loves!a!good!top!10!list. FOWA!Miami!!|!!02.23.2009!!|!70
  42. 1.!!Less!is!more • Don’t!get!in!the!way!of!your!reader!gathering!information!or! completing!a!task. • Cut!all!unnecessary!words.!Then!cut!some!more. • GET!OUT!OF!YOUR!READER’S!WAY. FOWA!Miami!!|!!02.23.2009!!|!71
  43. FOWA!Miami!!|!!02.23.2009!!|!72
  44. FOWA!Miami!!|!!02.23.2009!!|!73
  45. 2.!Get!to!the!point! • Boredom!=!immediate!departure • Save!your!niceties!for!when!they!call. • Step!into!your!reader’s!shoes.!! – What!information!do!I!want? – What!do!I!want!to!do? FOWA!Miami!!|!!02.23.2009!!|!74
  46. FOWA!Miami!!|!!02.23.2009!!|!75
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  48. 3.!Learn!to!love!the!inverted!pyramid.! • Not!… – Problem!statement! – Related!work! – Methodology! – Results! – Conclusions! • But!… – Conclusion – Supporting!information – Background,!technical!details FOWA!Miami!!|!!02.23.2009!!|!77
  49. 4.!Lead!with!active!words.! You!know!you’re!getting!a!great!deal!every!time!you!log!on!to! Target.com.!We!have!everyday!low!prices,!fabulous!moneyquot; saving!offers!and!all!your!favorite!products,!right!here!online, 24!hours!a!day. For!fabulous!savings!and!everyday!low!prices,!shop!online!24! hours!a!day!at!Target.com. Save!more!money.!!Shop!Target.com. FOWA!Miami!!|!!02.23.2009!!|!78
  50. 5.!Use!simple!sentences. • Complex: Best!Buy!Co,!Inc.!is!North!America’s!leading!specialty!retailer! of!consumer!electronics!and!appliances,!operating!nearly! 700!retail!stores!in!the!United!States!and!Canada!under!the! names!Best!Buy,!Future!Shop,!Geek!Squad!and!Magnolia! Audio!Video. • Simple: Best!Buy!Co.,!Inc.!is!North!America’s!leading!specialty!retailer! of!consumer!electronics!and!appliances.!!We!operate!nearly! 700!retail!stores!in!the!United!States!and!Canada.!!Our! subsidiaries!include!Best!Buy,!Future!Shop,!Geek!Squad!and! Magnolia!Audio!Video. FOWA!Miami!!|!!02.23.2009!!|!79
  51. 6.!Break!it!up. • Put!the!reader!in!control. • Paragraphs:!40quot;60!words. FOWA!Miami!!|!!02.23.2009!!|!80
  52. 7.!Design!for!scan!readers. • Bulleted!lists • Hierarchical!headings • Clean!up!your!columns • See!Luke!Wroblewski’s presentation,!Content!Page!Design! Best!Practices:!http://tr.im/gHgP FOWA!Miami!!|!!02.23.2009!!|!81
  53. FOWA!Miami!!|!!02.23.2009!!|!82
  54. 8.!!Write!killer!headings! • I’m!not!reading.!!I’m!scanning. • Just!tell!me!what!I’m!going!to!find!on!that!page!or!in!that! paragraph. • Use!keywords. • Don’t!be!clever. FOWA!Miami!!|!!02.23.2009!!|!84
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  57. 9.!Set!expectations.! • Deliver!on!your!promises. • Tell!people!how!much,!how!long,!how!often. • Make!sure!links!match!section!(or!page)!titles.! FOWA!Miami!!|!!02.23.2009!!|!87
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  59. FOWA!Miami!!|!!02.23.2009!!|!89
  60. 9½.!!“Click!here” is!out! Contact!usto!contact!us Click!here Learn!more Click!here to!find!out!more Order!nowto!order!now Click!here Sign!up!for!our!equot;newsletter Click!here to!sign!up!for!our!equot;newsletter FOWA!Miami!!|!!02.23.2009!!|!90
  61. 10.!!Lighten!up.! • Readers!want!to!enjoy!their!visit. • Be!intimate,!friendly,!respectful. • Use!contractions,!common!language. • Make!your!reader!feel!smart,!not!stupid. FOWA!Miami!!|!!02.23.2009!!|!91
  62. Discuss PART!SIX
  63. Hey,!thanks! email kristina@braintraffic.com blog http://braintraffic.typepad.com twitter @halvorson Kristina!Halvorson!!!|!!!FOWA!Miami!!!|!!!02.23.2009

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