Most web content is overwritten; too much content, too much
context, not nearly enough focus on the action. Unfortunately,
we’re taught to write this way.
How often are you presented with content on the Web that begins
something like this: “Exciting, compelling, and effective user
experiences result in high levels of customer loyalty,
satisfaction, and referral.” On the surface, this seems like an
okay sentence. It’s how we’re taught to write: set the scene,
establish the context.
However, it’s utterly useless. It’s like saying: “Every business
is an end-to-end network of interrelated people and processes.
The more seamless and flexible the network, the more successful
the business.” Or: “Your people are your most valuable resource.
They contribute to the success of your company.” Or: “Even
during the best of times, companies are always looking for ways
to trim costs, optimize processes, drive efficiencies, and
create greater value for their clients.”
The problem with the above sentences, other than the fact that
they are utterly useless, is that they are utterly useless. (Not
to mention the fact that they are utterly useless.) They don’t
tell you anything you don’t already know, and they give you no
real sense of what the product or service is actually about.
If someone is at your website they already have the context.
They have made a deliberate decision. They are in an active,
doing mode. They want to dig deeper, compare, price, to get
detail, detail, detail.
Write web content from an elevator pitch perspective. Your
customer has walked into the elevator, the doors have closed,
they turn to you and say: “Convince me before the next stop to
buy your product.” Design your website from the ‘I badly need to
go to the toilet’ perspective. Your customer needs to act and
act quickly. That’s the Web.
You’re proud of your website but pride comes before the click of
the Back button. Anything on your website that puffs your ego,
that makes you smile, that you think is really cool-remove
immediately. The content that you’re in love with-and so proud
of-is nearly always the content that drives your customers away.
There is far too much content written for the English teacher or
the English exam you crammed for. You want to impress. You want
to show off all the clever things you know. You want a
beginning, middle and end. You want to tell them what you’re
going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you’ve told
A normal person sees a link called “Where’s my refund?” and
thinks that if they click on this link they’ll be able to answer
that question quickly. But a classically trained English student
who wrote the link thinks that when the person clicks on the
link they should be given this sentence. “You filed your tax
return and you’re expecting a refund. You have just one question
and you want the answer now: Where’s my refund?”