Writing Website Content – Where Do I Start?

Creating content for your website is a serious task. Writing website content is not the same as writing printed content, that’s because we read website content differently. Be honest, when was the last time you read an entire online article top to bottom?

Website content is scanned – only 20% of your content will actually be read

It’s usually a quick glance to see if the information you’re seeking is there. If not, fear the wrath of the back button! Needless to say, you don’t have long to make an impression. If you want your visitors to stick around, it’s got be compelling stuff.

According to research, people will only read around 20% of the text on your average web page. It’s also worth noting that people read 25% slower on screen than in print, so some recommend that you need around 50% of print publication copy of you are to adapt it for the web.

Website content should be concise and to the point

Basically, you have two options:

  • Learn a little about writing website content and get to work
  • Hire a professional website copywriter

Either way, here is a plan to help you get started.

Website Content Creation Plan

Whether you’re a large corporate, not-for-profit, government entity or small business, your content creation plan should be carefully considered to: 

  • ensure you speak in the language of your intended audience. 
  • support your organisational/business goals.
  • strengthen your brand through story and tone of voice. 
  • make the most of any opportunities to optimise your content for search engines.

A website content creation plan is essential for developing a website that effectively communicates your message, engages your audience, and supports your goals. 

Assuming you have started your project with UX research, meaning you have defined goals/objectives and have identified your target audiences, an example content creation plan might look something like this:

Conduct a content inventory

If you’re redesigning a website, start with what you already have. Clean up your existing content, carefully removing anything that’s superfluos and making sure everything that’s left is up to date and accurate.

From here, you can identify any gaps and gain a general understanding of what’s needed.

Research keywords

Keyword research will help you to identify the keywords and phrases your audiences use to find what they are looking for. Tools like Google Keyword Planner or SEMrush can help you to discover the words that will have the highest impact.

Keep in mind that the words and phrases you use internally, might be very different to the words that match the mental model of your target audience.

This will also support search engine optimisation.

Consider content types and topics

Again, if you’ve carried out user research already (and you should have), you’ll have proposed site map in hand, which will go some way to defining the types of content you’ll be creating. For example, blog posts, product pages, archive pages and so on. Now’s a good time to consider the best way to present the content on those pages. Will you use video, audio, infographics and so on.

Create content guidelines

Your brand strategy/style guide may already include content guidelines. If that’s the case, you can move to the next step. If not, you’ll need to develop content guidelines that define your brand’s tone of voice, style, and messaging.

This will ensure consistency across all the content you publish on your website (and elsewhere!)

Build your content creation team

Identify who’s responsible for content creation, editing and approval.

If you have a communications person or team, they will likely be tasked with creating website content. Hopefully they understand how writing for the web is different to writing for print. The most important thing is that they identify who’s responsible for

You could use a tool like Gather Content to help with this, or create a simple spreadsheet outlining the page title, content overview/requirements and who’s responsible for creating, editing and approving. Once your subject matter experts hand over content, you’ll need someone experienced in writing for the web to edit it.

Approval process

Once you’ve collated your content, you’ll want to ensure it’s accurate, uses correct grammar (which may mean you need to break grammar ‘rules’) and adheres to style guidelines. Now is a good time to check in with your legal department if you have one, to makes sure you meet any legal and ethical standards, including privacy regulations and such.

General Tips for Website Content Creation

  • Use familiar words – Think about the language that your visitors use and make sure that’s the tone you’re writing in
  • Be succinct – Use short sentences in short paragraphs to facilitate content scanning and reduce cognitive load
  • Remove fluff – get rid of unnecessary words and buzzwords
  • Answer the questions your visitors are asking
  • Include links to other parts of your website or relevant content on other websites
  • Don’t leave the best to last, get to the point quickly
  • Make sure your images are relevant and good quality
  • Utilise headings and headlines and sub-headings for better scanability and to support users using screen readers
  • Go for clarity over cute, every time
  • Don’t make them think!

Website Content Check list:

  • Does your headline communicate what you’re about?
  • Do your sub-headings summarize your key points?
  • Did you use bullet points to reduce unnecessary reams of text?
  • Are your paragraphs and sentences succinct?
  • Do you answer your visitors questions?
  • Do you answer them using words that they will understand, with no internal jargon?
  • Do your pages start with the important stuff?
  • Did you use a spell-check?
  • Does your content achieve an acceptable readability score?
  • Do you tell your ready what they can do next?

Want to know more? Writing for web and usability.
And don’t forget about writing for SEO! Read the SEO Content Beginners Guide.


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