Blog

Creating not-shit content for your website.

Wednesday 28th May 2014

This is an article on creating content for your website. ‘Content’ is the name given to the words and pictures that make up a website. These words and pictures are flippin’ important, vital if you will, they’re the bits that help a visitor to decide if he or she wants to do business with you. Despite this, content is often neglected like a malnourished puppy or an unkempt nether region.

I shall now continue writing so you can neaten up your scruffy pubic area.

First of all let’s make a short list of the common mistakes people make when creating content, after this list I’ll tell you how to address them.

Too many words.

As a business owner, who is submerged in your industry, you’ll feel compelled to spill your guts like a student at 2am after 6 pints of cider and a kebab. Don’t do this, fight the urge. What you need to remember is “no one will read your long-winded bollocks”, harsh I know, but I’m making a point here.

Visitors to a website will have little glance, a gentle nosey, a whiff and a poke about. You’ll not get the devotion and commitment you want. To make matters worse most of the twats will rarely go beyond the home-page.

So the trick is to keep it short and to the point. I shall repeat this in a very simple way; write less you dick.

You’ve got a small window of opportunity, so make sure that window has a groomed Chihuahua in it, not a huge scabby cat with diarrhoea.

Also have a look at the space available on your site. More often than not the designer, if they’re half decent, will have inserted approximately the right amount of words in the site in the form of latin or meaningless text so you have a guide to work to. Use this. Copy and paste it out and make sure the copy you’re providing is a similar length.

Less waffle.

Do not make the assumption your visitor knows your industry and business, they could well know nothing about it, and you getting all clever and complex will scare the less knowledgeable away. It’s a bit like walking into a sex shop to buy a kinky maids outfit and being greeted by an overweight man in gimp suit with an erection. Nothing like that has ever happened to me.

Try to shift your perspective and imagine you know nothing about your industry. How would you explain your business to a novice?

Direct, simple language and tone is what people want to read, it’s the stuff that sinks in. I’m not talking about patronising your visitors, I’m talking about honest to-the-point copy that tells people exactly what they need to know. We are all sick to the teeth of the same old tripe:

We’re the best at key-enhanced deliverables in a over dynamic society, our products compete with big-data by allowing you to move forward with business impact. We’re reaching out to new clients

You’ve all read it, it’s bollocks. Would you really have the patience to do business with someone that spouts buzz words and nonsense?

The fold.

People are scared of the fold. The term lingers from the days of newspapers. In the mid nineties an incredibly boring usability guru harped on about the fold in web design and scared everyone into making all their content visible without scrolling making for crammed, shit, fiddly websites.

But that was two decades ago. Since then the way we look at websites has changed. We no longer worry about scrolling, we have no issue with swiping, rolling or dragging in fact we don’t even think about it.

So it gets on my wick when people say “can we move that above the fold”, because I interpret that as “shove all the shit stuff further down” and then I think; well if it’s shit why do you want it there at all?

My point being don’t concern yourself with the fold, just make your content good and people will scroll to read it. And if you’ve cut back on the words and waffle there shouldn’t be much scrolling anyway.

Pictures.

As we’ve already established words are commonly an afterthought and pictures are often an after-that-thought. Or something.

Me: “Can you send over the images when you’re ready please?”
Client: “Pictures? oh right, yeah just get them from google images”

Genuine email correspondence I regularly have. A picture paints a thousand words and all that jazzy shit. Websites are now physically big, it’s no longer about tiny thumbnails, images frequently take up a lot of space and feature predominately. So at the very least I’d suggest having a look through some of the inexpensive stock imagery libraries. For about a tenner you can get some pretty decent stuff that will be properly licensed and legit, unlike images I’m regularly told to steal from the internet like some sort of vile criminal.

But if you do go down the route of stock images avoid the usual crap; “Business men shaking hands”, “pen on desk” and “pretty lady on dated laptop”. As a general rule I’d say avoid illustrations altogether, try and add some reality to your site, it’s already riddled with shapes, colour and typography so use imagery to put a bit of life back into it.

If you’re a real smart biscuit there will be a theme for the imagery, they’ll tie in with the copy and colour-scheme. They’ll work with the site design and words, imagine that. I think bell-ends in suits call it “synergy”.

if you’re even smarter than the biscuit you’ll set aside some of the budget to pay a proper photographer to get some actual pictures of your business/products/premises/team. You know like the olden days. So instead of the team picture costing you 99 pence and featuring Emilio from Guatemala in a ill fitting suit from 1992. It’ll actually feature Mark from accounts, well chosen tie, big grin, nice man, once paid for an old ladies chips as she’d forgot her purse.

So yeah, pictures. Important. Think about them. Pay for them.

Conclusion.

Words and pictures are important, the fold is not. Your web designer will help you with it all if he or she isn’t a dick. But remember your web designer is generally just that, a designer, you’re not paying them to write copy or provide imagery so don’t think it comes as part of the package.

You know your business better than anyone so set aside time to do this stuff, even if you’re able to provide notes and ideas it helps shape things and whilst you’re not paying your web designer to go beyond their scope he/she will probably bridge the gap if you devote the time and show your commitment.

Comments