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Website Content Writing Tips

Writing website content tends to divide people into one of two camps. Those who relish the challenge and those who start to get that sinking feeling. But love it or loath it copy writing is a reality for anyone creating or managing a modern website. In a quick survey of the sites we launched in the past few months we found that the average had over 6,000 words of original written content, and that’s excluding stuff like products pages or blog posts. All those words have to come from somewhere so we thought we’d share two simple techniques we use to take some of the pain out of creating new website content.

Tackling the empty page

There can be nothing more daunting than an empty page, but in most cases you shouldn’t need to start from scratch every time. Developers very rarely start with a blank page every time they sit down to code a site – we use frameworks or code snippets and have our favourite CSS resets that we like to start with. The page might still be pretty blank but we’ve overcome that important first step. So how can we achieve something similar for the written word?

As designers we’re always collecting clippings of design elements we come across that could help inspire a future project and there’s no reason you can’t do the same for website copy. So if you read a bit of text and think ‘that’s the kind of tone I want for my site’, or ‘I really like how they’ve formatted the instructions on this page’, then grab it for referencing later. At The Pixel Parlour we use Evernote to collect together all our reference content into one easily searchable library that’s shareable across the team. Now if we need some content to demonstrate a particular writing style or formatting approach to a client it’s just a quick search away.

Just as with design inspiration it’s important not to stray over the line into plagiarism when working with written reference material. It’s not a case of changing a few words and hoping that it’s different enough that no one will notice. The aim is to be inspired rather then to hone your copy and paste skills. Let’s demonstrate with a quick example. Here’s a nice bit of copy from the MailChimp homepage, it combines a compelling statistic followed by a clear call to action.

“3 million people use MailChimp. Sign up and join them today.”

So using the same content formula, we might create something like the following for a site we’re working on.

“15,000 signatures and counting. Add your voice to our petition today.”

Sometimes a little spark of inspiration is all you need to set you on the path to creating some great original content.

Build a content guide

Our second tip helps make the content creation process easier over time.

When we work long-term with a client we create a Content Guide for their site, which we can use as a reference when drafting any new website content. The easiest way to understand it is as a mix of style guide and stock library, providing any easy place to turn when you need a quick snippet of text and a reference to help ensure consistency of terminology and tone.

It’s made up of all the existing content we can lay our hands on, plus information such as key facts and figures and keyword lists from SEO reports etc. If you already have a website, adverts, media kits or anything with written content about your business, you have the beginning of your own Content Guide. Then as you create new content you can add it in over time and grow your library still further.

It’s useful for teams of one, but particularly helpful if you have multiple people contributing to a website, ensuring you can retain a consistent voice and avoid duplications of effort when the content you need has already been written by someone else in your organisation.

Go forth and comp with content

Lorem Ipsum certainly has its uses in the website design and development process, but if we’re honest it’s often a good way to put off tackling the task of writing real content. The tips covered in this post are some of the ways we’ve managed to get over that hurdle and start designing with real content rather then fitting content to the design down the line. We hope they help you find the content writing process that little bit easier too.

If you found this post useful the you might also like to read Optimising WordPress Blogs for Search, which touches on some other aspects such as structuring content on a page and aligning new content with your SEO aims.

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Nick Barron

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Nick Barron

In his role as UX Director Nick ensures that everything we do reflects a clear understanding of our clients’ aims as well the expectations of their audiences.