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A Crash Course on Writing Effective Web Copy

You might be asking yourself what is web copy? Well, web copy is basically the bones of your website. It is the core text that guides people through your site and tells them what they need to know. It is the writing that is on your home page and all the other main pages. Now, how do you write website copy and do it effectively?

Writing for the web is much different than writing for print publications or writing a book. It is important to remember that content drives readership. The quality of your web copy will determine whether your message is read or simply overlooked. Here are five tips to help you write web copy effectively:

Writing web copy is not as hard as you think.

Be clear

Say what you want to say, but say it as briefly as possible. You do not want to say the same thing several different ways in order to emphasize your point. People live busy lives and it is important to respect your readers' time and say what you mean.

Keep it short and sweet

When writing website copy avoid long paragraphs at all costs. Everyone in this day and age seems to be time poor and has about a thousand different things competing for their attention. Nothing yells “Do Not Read This!” in big, bold letters, louder than huge blocks of text. A good rule to go by is to keep your paragraphs between 3-5 lines in length.

Get visual

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and it’s true. Images provide an enjoyable visual break in contrast to the words. Think about adding images to your site that attract people and tell your storyYou should aim for at least one picture, however, if it’s a long post or web page, it’s better to have several. Just as every sentence of your web copy should serve a purpose, so should the images you use. It is important to choose relevant images that will enhance and support your web copy and not serve as just a way to break up the text. 

Here’s a brief list of the web copy elements on your site you might test to see what is most effective.

Break it up

Use bullet points or numbers anytime you find yourself writing a list. Even if each item is a paragraph, a bullet-point list can be very effective. 

    • They help break up the dullness of text,
    • They are super easy to scan, and
    • They are fun to write. 

You’ll be amazed at how much easier a page is to read if it’s been properly split up. You can also use headings to break things up, and if you use the right words these actually help your page get found by people easier.

Read it, cut it, read it again

If you are expecting others to read your carefully constructed web copy, the least you can do is read through it before you press the publish button. Get someone else to review your web copy, if you can’t, take a break and come back to it with fresh eyes. By now, you should be reading your website copy with a view of cutting it down by up to a half. Once you’ve cut it, read it again. Yes, it sounds exhausting, but every word you remove helps make your copy more concise and more effective.

On the web you have unlimited space, but very limited attention. Therefore, it is important to make every second, or word in this case, count. So, when writing web copy, ask yourself this question, if you could write only one thing on your website, what would it be?

My name is Morgan McPherson, and I am a senior at the Reed College of Media majoring in strategic communications with an emphasis in public relations. I am also a Digital Communications Director for the class. I am responsible for any computer mediated efforts, including social media campaigns, email campaigns, and website development for my team’s brand for Whitesville, W.Va. I am eager to be involved in the campaign strategies that we will be creating, as well as learning about web development.