Updated: Jan 20
A comfortable, entertaining experience online starts with great copy.
In this post I'll show you how to make your copy more enjoyable.
Tell Them What You're Giving Them, Immediately
Notice how I started this post. I told you exactly what the post was about, right away.
Last week I explained that people don't read online, they skim.
They're impatient, and want to know what's in it for them.
While it can feel natural to use teasers (especially with sales copy) the online user actually responds better when you're upfront and honest.
You're not writing a novel, don't build suspense.
Use your title, intro, and headings to tell people the most important parts of your content.
The user is efficient. They'll quickly scan the content to see if it's interesting.
If you've written great headlines, they'll stick around and read what's under them.
Write at an 8th Grade Reading Level
A lot of people need to hear this:
People don't decide how intelligent you are based on your vocabulary.
We're all guilty of stuffing big words into essays to seem smarter.
But online, ease is what's important.
Communicate with your user in simple terms.
This will help with accessibility, and make it easier for everyone to interact with your content.
But also, even the most capable, fluent readers don't care for lofty text online.
They want to know what you know, and they want to know it fast.
"If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself." - Einstein
Say it in terms even I can understand: Complex bad. Simple good. No do complex online.
Avoid Paragraphs & Break Up Sentences
I've said this is previous posts: nobody likes paragraphs online.
Or sentences longer than 20 words.
Long sentences and paragraphs cause users to lose attention.
Web copy should have a ton of white space.
It's much easier to read 5,000 words in a format like this,
Than it is to read 5,000 words in a paragraph format with long run on sentences like this that inevitably lead you to lose focus and have to start the sentence over again and then lose track and give up because it's way too much effort.
Break up your text.
Even if it means breaking grammatical rules.
I had a professor tell me she purposely chose text-heavy books, written in old english to teach herself composition.
She was trying to sound intelligent.
Novels aside, nobody wants to sit down with pages and pages of tightly-packed text.
You need graphics to support your copy.
Videos and gifs are best, but images and infographics work well too.
Aside from creating white space with text chunking, try using bullet points.
Catch the eye
Break up sentences
If you've got a list or set of instructions:
Take them out of sentence structure
Put them in a numbered list
Save your users time
The psychology of color is very important in the UX design world, and for good reason.
You might notice my site, and my instagram posts are currently set with a neon, 90s style color palette.
That's because Apple released the dark mode feature, and users love it.
Now, web design is trending towards neon colors with dark backgrounds.
It's actually crazy how much of the world revolves around Apple. Especially the UX world.
But whatever the current color trend, it's always important for your copy to have contrast.
However, whenever you have an extended amount of copy (like blog posts or product descriptions) I would stick to either black text, white background OR white text, black background.
Where you can experiment with different colors is within your microcopy.
Microcopy is the small chunks of text across platforms like labels, CTAs, text within forms, etc.
Everything you see in this image is microcopy:
If you've got an e-commerce site, consider contrasting colors for your microcopy.
Use Skim Stoppers
Alright so now you're familiar with ways to quickly and efficiently communicate with your user.
But what if you want people to stay on your site longer?
Use skim stoppers.
Videos, which are solid for improving all parts of web design, are great skim stoppers.
All graphics catch your eye, but analytics show that videos are by far the best with increasing engagement time.
If you're able to include a video that's relevant to the copy on your site, by all means do it.
Not only will it make your copy more entertaining, but it'll boost your SEO too.
In the coming weeks I'll make sure to cover SEO for videos in more depth.
But for now, just know they're a great supplement for your copy.
Another great skim stopper: quotes.
"Not only are you going to stop and read the quote. But you're going to read the text before and after the quote too." - Brian Dean
Quotes are a great way to add contrast, catch the eye, and keep your user reading.
Also, notice how Brian avoided using a comma in that quote. That's expert-level web writing.
Side note: At the top of my posts, I show you how long it'll take to read each post.
This works for me, because I want my blog to be as welcoming as possible, and reflect my personality.
I've got a short attention span, so I like to keep my posts short.
I totally understand if you want people to spend more time on your site, but I would be careful releasing really long posts or videos.
Aim for more content, but space it out.
It's better to have people watch ten of your 2-minute videos than have them get scared away by one 20-minute video.
Great Copy Develops Trust
Whatever it is you're writing about, make sure it's easy to digest.
Your user is the most important aspect of your web design and marketing strategy.
Compelling, enjoyable copy is an important part of creating trust between you and your user.
Remember: trust is your leverage.
When you gain trust, you won't need to sell your product.
People will come to you for your brand.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments! I reply to all of them.
And, don't forget to subscribe so you never miss a post!