My Notes on Writing Vibrant, Compelling Copy by Ginny Redish

Today I had the good fortune of assisting the webinar provided by UIE with Ginny Redish about writing correctly for the web. I attended with my colleagues from work, and I found it more than useful, so I decided to share my notes with you.

The main point covered by Ginny was the fact that, even though navigation, design and technology conforming a website are critical aspects of it, they are nothing without a good content. She compared them to the three legs of a stool: without the seat, they can’t stand on their own. They exist for supporting the content. And, after all, users come to a site to search for content, not to admire the design.

My notes on Ginny‘s presentation:

  • Without good content, a website is useless.
  • You need to think of a website as a conversation between you and your visitors.
  • There are three types of content metaphors:
    • Open file cabinet – This one operates under the assumption that users are looking for documents and large quantities of information. It’s not the right one to focus on.
    • Newspaper – When you give too much importance to the ‘About Us’ information, you are considering this metaphor, but it is also not what you need to achieve.
    • Shopping catalog – Of course, the shopping experience is important, but selling isn’t the only thing you should focus your attention on.
    • Telephone – This is the right way of looking at your web content: As a conversation with a person who has questions about a certain topic. The social media concept strenghtens this metaphor.
  • “Every use of your website is a conversation started by your site visitor.” 
  • Instead of thinking ‘We want to sell this product’, you should think ‘We want to help people buy this product’.
  • Reviewing your site’s conversation requires you to:
    • Have personas
    • Know their stories
    • Shadow their moves (Follow their actions through the site as if you were them, anticipate their questions and give them the answers briefly and clearly).
  • Consider the direction in which people read (why put something important like customer service in the upper right corner if it’s the last place people will look at?)
  • There’s not always the need to read, a good call to action can replace a long paragraph. If the written information is needed, consider whether it is really necessary to have it as a paragraph or if a short bullet list can replace it.
  • “Cut to the essentials!” 
  • Intranets are important too – You are paying for the time an employee spends searching for something.
  • Copy itself doesn’t help SEO, it’s having your keywords on those short pieces of text what eventually improves SEO.
  • B2B websites don’t change the fact that it is about a conversation between human beings.
  • 7 principles about how to do it well
  1. Engage your site visitors immediately
  2. Get right to the point – key message first
  3. Imagine conversations as you write
  4. Help people get information quickly
  5. Put people and actions in your copy
  6. Use your site’s visitors words
  7. Review your copy before you publish
  • “Content strategy is part of your overall business strategy to achieve your business goals.”