Improve your web writing skills


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Improve your web writing skills

  1. 1. Editorial Skills for Charities Workshop 26 January
  2. 2. Improve your web writing skills Editorial skills for charities workshop Content © Anna McLoughlin :2
  3. 3. Hello. I’m Anna McLoughlin @AnnaInkspiller on Twitter3
  4. 4. What will we cover? What people want from your website How to make web content easy to read and use Who you’re writing for How to write in a meaningful way for them How to move them to take action You will leave with: A web copywriting blueprint for your website A web content framework for effective web writing4
  5. 5. People want content They want to read as little as possible … and no more Image from: www.trafficcoleman.com5
  6. 6. They don’t read more because…. They are busy They want answers It’s not relevant They want to do something They want to grab and go!6
  7. 7. Good web writing is a conversation “Think of your web content as a focussed conversation, started by a busy person” - Ginny Redish ‘Letting Go of the Words’7
  8. 8. Your side of the conversation… Good web writing answers people’s questions: - “How do I donate ?” - “Where do I find out about getting some support?” - “May I volunteer for you?” - “Can you tell me more about what you do?”8
  9. 9. Good web writing lets them grab & go9
  10. 10. Where to start? “Writing is a lot easier if you have something to say” - Sholem Asch10
  11. 11. Blueprint The ‘Web Copywriting Blueprint’ is a set of golden questions It never fails to help work out what to say and how to say it Take this away and brainstorm the questions with colleagues Find your Blueprint at:
  12. 12. The Blueprint covers Stage 1: What you want to achieve Stage 2: Talk to the right people Stage 3: Talk about the right things, in the right way Stage 4: For the right result12
  13. 13. Stage 1: What you want to achieve What does your website do for you at the moment? e.g. Help raise funds, raise awareness, provide support. What would you like people to do on your site? e.g. Donate13
  14. 14. Stage 2: It’s all about the audience14
  15. 15. Stage 2: Talking to the right people Who are your audience? Are they male or female? How old are they? What kind of work do they do? What is their expertise and experience? What other sites do they visit? What are their hobbies? What are their values? What motivates them?15
  16. 16. Gather information Read emails; what are they asking? Talk to marketing Talk to Customer Service Conduct a survey Watch and listen in physical locations Interview people Do usability testing16
  17. 17. Use information to create personas Persona developed at Be Good, Be Social. Photo credit:
  18. 18. Put a face and name to your persona Personas of people seeking aid information Source: www.aidinfolabs.org18
  19. 19. Stage 2: What do they want? When gathering information, pay attention to the words your audience use: Why are they coming to you? What are their questions? What are their problems? What key tasks do they have in mind?19
  20. 20. How easy are your key tasks? In a study of 60 non-profit sites, the Nielsen Norman Group found: “Giving money on charity websites is 7% harder than spending money on e-commerce sites. The top priority for non-profits is to write clearer content.” - Jakob Nielsen, 2011 • It took 7% more time to complete a donation than in a separate ecommerce study20
  21. 21. Research findings Nielsen asked people to complete key tasks: Key Task Result Choosing which charity to donate to Poor: Not enough information to determine value or trustworthiness Making a first time donation 7% worse than best practice Making a repeat donation Average rating of 5.7 out of 7 Non-monetary contributions Rated poor Volunteering Rated good: straightforward information provided21
  22. 22. Communicate value The top priority is transparency about what a charity does, the impact and why it’s important: “Non-profits must clearly communicate their value proposition if they want to attract volunteers and online donations.” - Jakob Nielsen, 2011 • Report available to buy at:
  23. 23. Taglines It should be clear what your charity does at first glance A strong tagline is priceless, e.g. “A Dog is for Life”. For inspiration, browse the ‘Non Profit Tagline Database’ report at:
  24. 24. What do you do?24
  25. 25. Can you help me?25
  26. 26. Emotional connections Do they have a personal connection to your charity? How are they likely to be feeling? Anxious? Frustrated? Skeptical? “Web content for people who are angry, frustrated, anxious or stressed has to be particularly clear and simple” -Ginny Reddish26
  27. 27. Sensitive to children’s feelings27
  28. 28. Stage 3: Golden questions What’s the problem we’re trying to solve? Why hasn’t this been solved before? What is different now we’ve come along? How do we know?28
  29. 29. Stage 3: Talking in the right way Avoid the “we we” effect; don’t talk about yourself, talk about your cause Don’t make yourself the reason to give, e.g. “Help empower them” rather than “Help us change this” Show why what you’re doing is important or relevant to your audience Demonstrate outcomes, e.g. “20 homeless people now have jobs” rather than “we trained 20 homeless people”.29
  30. 30. Stage 4: Strong “calls to action”30
  31. 31. What we’ve covered so far… Now you should have a clearer idea: Who you are talking to What they need from you How to talk about your charity in a meaningful way for them What you want to achieve31
  32. 32. Finding your voice Remember it’s a conversation: So, who are you? What are your values?32
  33. 33. Tone of voice exercise Try contrasting values: “Professional, not academic.” “Confident, not arrogant.” “Clever, not cutesy.” “Savvy, not hipster.” “Expert, not preachy.” Exercise from Kristina Halvorson’s “Content Strategy for the Web”33
  34. 34. This, not this Less Like More Like Contact us Get in touch! Our content offers many unexpected benefits More than good web writing. Way more. Our writers have a myriad of creative skills and Our writers aren’t just well-trained. They’re substantial technical expertise seriously talented. We have an enthusiasm and passion for content Everyone here loves content. A lot. that shows in all we do. Adapted from Kristina Halvorson’s “Content Strategy for the Web”34
  35. 35. Create a word bank Created at wordle.net35
  36. 36. Use the word bank to write36
  37. 37. A simple content framework Give your content the best possible chance of being read Find your content framework at:
  38. 38. How people scan web pages People read in a rough ‘F’ shape38 Eye tracking research from
  39. 39. Help them read your content Using the ‘Inverted Pyramid’ style will help people read and use your content Image from
  40. 40. Headlines are critical Focus on what’s important to your audience CareLogger: 32.2% increase in sign-ups just by changing the headline Source: Abtests.com40
  41. 41. Be clear and concise41
  42. 42. Explain the offer42
  43. 43. Appeal to emotions43
  44. 44. Arouse curiosity44
  45. 45. Use subheadings, lists & linksBefore AfterGet Seen, Get Heard with MTV and Want to Play a Stadium & Help End Poverty?Oxjam! - It all starts at Oxjam & on MTV thisWanna be the next Kaiser Chiefs, Kasabian, Hot October!Chip? Want stardom, to play to adoring fans andthe chance to make a difference? Now you can Film yourself playing at an Oxjam event this(but you better move quick). October and you could win the chance to play alongside the UK’s biggest bands at a majorFilm yourself playing an Oxjam event in fundraiser next year.October and you could be one of four new actsplaying alongside Britain’s biggest bands at a What next: Oxjam Timelinemajor fundraising gig next year. It’s a realchance to change lives, including your own! Now: Register at MTV Flux and Oxjam Oct: Go, play and film your gigOctober is going to be jampacked with music Oct: Upload your video to MTV Fluxmadness. Dec: Top videos play on MTV Jan: Viewers pick the finalistsSee the Oxjam Timeline Apr: Winners get to play at Help Make Poverty History45
  46. 46. Testimonials and stories WikiJob: Adding testimonials increased sales by 34% Source: abtests.com46
  47. 47. Use stories People want to help people47
  48. 48. Calls to action Make calls to action about the audience, not you. e.g. “Fight for good” not “We need your donation”.Campaign Monitor:26.6% more people responded to ‘Give us your best ideas!” Source: abtests.com48
  49. 49. “On the average Web page, users have time to read at most 28% of the words during an average visit; 20% is more likely.” - Jakob Nielsen Reduce your word count by half Can you reduce it in half again? People will get more information with less content49
  50. 50. 50
  51. 51. Perfecting your copy Use the checklist on the Framework Let it sit overnight If it bothers you; cut it Read aloud Get someone else to read it Don’t rely on spell check alone Read from the bottom of the document to the top51
  52. 52. To conclude Good web writing is like a conversation Understand who you are talking to and their questions Provide what they want to know in a way that’s relevant Establish a tone of voice Structure your copy so they can ‘grab and go’ Write in an inverted pyramid style Edit ruthlessly Take-away tools: Blueprint: Web Content Framework:
  53. 53. Thanks for your time Feel free to ask questions: Anna McLoughlin Twitter: @AnnaInkspiller53