Build a solid foundation when writing website copy for positive UX.
If you work on website content, you might not think about how to write website copy for positive UX (User Experience). UX may sound to you like a back-end term that’s best left up to developers. However, that’s a faulty assumption, especially if you’ll be working with designers and developers on websites and other online projects.
In my experience, writers can do a better job of contributing to websites when they understand the basics of UX. By broadening your scope in this way, you’ll provide more value to your client or company—and maybe even lead to more substantial work that extends your portfolio, gets you promoted, or helps you land that next job.
Let’s run through the basics of planning for positive UX using copywriting techniques.
What Does it Mean to Write Website Copy that Delivers Positive UX?
First, let’s start with a general definition of UX. According to Wikipedia, “The user experience is how a user interacts with and experiences a product, system or service. It includes a person’s perceptions of utility, ease of use, and efficiency.” This would include planning for clear navigation, fast loading times, and responsiveness on all types of devices.
Another way to think of UX from a copywriter’s point of view is that users have a good experience when the copy helps and motivates users to move through each page, understand the page, and move smoothly from one relevant page to another so they can quickly get the information they need.
Even if you don’t have input into the site’s design, functionality, responsiveness, and structure, writers can enhance this process by paying attention to areas including:
- High-Quality Content
Let’s look at how these can affect how you write copy for user experience.
Research Helps You Develop Copy that Results in a Positive User Experience.
UX generally takes the lead role in researching background areas that will ultimately drive the structure, functionality, and look of the website. However, it will serve you well to do your own research, as you will need different information than the design and development team.
Some key areas to research when you write for website UX are:
How does the company want to be portrayed? Is their personality conservative, professional yet easy-going, fun, data-driven, or something else? Your copy should reflect a personality that the user will relate to and find credible.
What is the company’s Unique Selling Proposition (USP)? How can you create copy that highlights what the company does best, its value, and why the visitors on your website should care? There may be obvious ways to include USPs, but they can also be woven subtly throughout the copy.
Who are you talking to? You’ll want to think about who you are currently talking to, as well as additional audiences you’d like to attract. Do background work on who your key audiences are, what their concerns are, and the information they want on the pages you are writing. This may vary from desktop to mobile, so determine which type of device is most common among your users.
How does the company fit in the competitive landscape? There are different ways to compete in the market and your niche. You may offer the lowest price, the best service, or the most creative solutions. Make your best qualities shine, putting them front and center as part of your brand.
Readability Provides a Positive Experience for Website Users.
One of your main goals in planning your website for positive UX is to keep people moving down the page. The best way to do this is to make it easy and enjoyable. If it feels like a chore, they’ll click away.
Some of the key rules of thumb for assuring website readability include:
- Write short sentences, and also keep paragraphs short (three to five sentences max).
- Don’t use a complicated word when a simple one will do.
- Edit without mercy, and then proof, proof, proof.
- Avoid needless jargon that is either cliché or difficult for laypeople to understand.
- If you’re working with a design, think about how you can highlight copy with interesting images, icons, photos, and videos or podcasts.
Related Reading: The 5 Most Important Rules to Boost Readability
Scannability Requires On-Page Organization.
The major of visitors to your website will scan each page, rather than through the copy top to bottom—so plan your website accordingly. You have several main tasks when it comes to scannability. First, make it easy for them to find the information they care about. Second, get them to read content more comprehensively. Many of the tips in this area also make it easier for Google to index and serve up your pages in search results.
Some ways to improve scannability of website pages include:
- User hierarchical heading tags, with your title as an H1 heading, main subheads as H2 headings, and sub-topics under your H2 headings as H3-6 (although I rarely go past H3).
- Use H2 headings every two or three paragraphs.
- Place important words closer to the left of the page, at the beginning of headlines and sentences.
- Keep your thoughts in logical order. Use discrete paragraphs that fall logically under a relevant heading. Remove redundancy between sections.
Related Reading: How Do Users Scan Content? (And Why You Should Care)
Related Reading (NN Group): How Users Read on the Web
Support SEO When Creating UX-Focused Website Content.
Using copywriting techniques for front-end SEO, which refers to what the user sees, enables your website pages and blog articles to get more attention from search engines.
Note that Google’s new AI-driven algorithm focuses on context—how a keyword is used in a search term—rather than merely isolated keywords. In addition, given the rise of search through voice recognition, use natural-sounding language that echoes the way a user speaks in everyday language.
Related Reading: 16 Fool-Proof Tips for Optimizing On-Page SEO
Here some copywriting tips for front-end SEO:
Keywords: Using only one search term per page will prevent Google from thinking you have redundant pages, which prevents proper indexing. When researching your keywords, look for long-tail keywords that sound like what users would say when searching on their mobile phones or speech recognition software. Then, put keywords, keyword-related terms, and synonyms in H2 subheads and the first sentence of paragraphs.
Content: Anticipate user needs and expectations on each page, then create high-value content to keep them reading, scanning, and interacting. Write to your specific audience—their demographics, expertise, function, level of decision-making, and other factors.
Meta Data: If you’re using WordPress or another CMS (content management system), write your title tags and meta descriptions to appeal to the users and clarify content for Google. Your title tag, the clickable blue link at the top of your Google snippet, should be 50-60 characters and include the page’s keyword. Your meta description, the text below the title tag, should be 155-160 characters and include the keyword early in the first sentence.
Format Your Copy for UX with Visual Comfort.
Correctly formatting your copy is good for readability and scanning. On the other hand, dense copy can give your reader a headache. Open up the pages so your copy is easier on the eyes, preventing discomfort that can turn them away from the screen. The designer often takes the lead in providing plenty of soothing white space, but you can help.
Some copywriting tips for opening up the page include:
Keep sections short: “Chunking” copy into small, logical sections that flow into each other. Use frequent H2 subheads, small paragraphs, short sentences, and language free from hype and industry jargon.
Highlight Details: Use (but don’t overuse) methods to emphasize important facts and details using bullet points, numbered lists, pull quotes, and other formatting techniques to break up the page,
Optimize Font Size and Spacing: If it’s up to you, rather than a designer, choose large, easy-to-read fonts (at least 16 points), Use a family of only several fonts—perhaps one for headlines, one for body copy, and one for captions. Keep line spacing at around 130-150% as a percentage of the font size.
Related Reading: 12 Surefire Practices for Website Formatting
Let High-Quality and Value Drive Website Copy UX.
The number one thing website users want is relevant, high-quality content that is easy to find—content that provides information that will meet and exceed the user’s expectations and needs. And, as usual, what’s good for your visitors is also good for SEO.
Some ways to drive copywriting quality on websites are:
Address their concerns: Understand, anticipate, and deliver the content your users expect and need—keeping in mind the audience’s level of knowledge about your industry, products, and services. One way to do this is to think about the questions prospects and customers ask when researching, evaluating, comparing, purchasing, and retaining your services—and the answers that will move them closer to purchase. This will help you write copy that is most relevant to your prospect’s and customers’ concerns.
Stay on brand: Keep your tone and “personality” consistent with the brand. Also, use consistent messaging about your company’s unique strengths and how you provide value to your customers.
Boost your “EAT” factors: When Google raters (real humans) evaluate your pages for quality, they look at factors known as EAT: Expertise, Authority, and Trust: You can increase your EAT score with high-value “extras”, such as research studies, testimonials, case studies, and reviews. Plus you can provide outbound links and resources to sites that are highly respected in your industry.
Look professional: Keep your copy free from grammatical errors, typos, and lackluster copy. Copy with these problems shows a lack of caring; after all, if your copy is sloppy, what else don’t you pay attention to? Learn how to avoid Sloppy Copy and Content Mistakes.
Are You Ready To Plan Your Website Copy for Positive UX?
Don’t let designers or marketers that UX is only the development team’s job. The copy is an integral part of the user’s experience. Using the copywriting techniques above, you’ll play a valuable role in keeping readers on each page and enhancing their experience on your website.
For high-quality content that always focuses on your audience, contact Westebbe Marketing, a Boston-based agency specializing in high-performing original content. Contact us online, call us at (617) 699-4462, or email us.
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