Why website writing should not be a DIY project

May 11, 2015

website writing - man at computerHere’s a sad, typical scenario in my world:

The client wants a website.

The client hires a web designer.

The client says he’ll provide the words.

The website sits… for days, weeks, even months.

It may look pretty – but it has no words. It’s like a skeleton waiting for someone to put flesh on its bones. Where is the website copy?

“I’m slammed with work.”

That’s valid. When you have billable work to do, your marketing efforts often take a back seat. (It happens to me all the time.)

But pretty soon, the website writing project that started out as a roaring fire is barely a flicker in the back of your mind. When the flicker dies, it is difficult to go back to it with the same level of enthusiasm.

If you were able to give about an hour or two of your time to a professional writer, I dare say your copy would magically write itself. Poof! Problem solved.

“I don’t know where to start.”

Oh, the anguish of the blank screen. Starting is the hardest part. Especially when you’re trying to write about your own company. Do you know why?

Because you’re too close to it.

No one will ever dispute the fact that you know your business better. But sometimes this can be a hindrance, rather than a help. When you’re so close to your business, it’s hard to be objective. It can be an agonizing exercise to find the words that will resonate with your prospects.

You need an outsider to look at your offering through your visitors’ eyes, pull out the benefits and clear away the industry jargon. You want your visitors to know they’ve come to the right place when they land on your site.

“If I give you our brochure, can you just pull copy from that?”

It may seem like a smart, time-saving idea to ask your web designer to use the copy from your brochure, but trust me on this one… it is not.

While your brand voice should be consistent across all your marketing materials, your copy needs to be written specifically for the medium on which it’s being read.

Brochure copy can’t be used as web copy because people read differently on the web. They scan words, click around to find information, cherry pick the pages they want to read, and if they don’t find what they’re looking for, they bounce. Bye bye.

A web writer knows how to take your story, adapt it for the web and hold the attention of your visitors longer. All the while, your writer is skillfully working to keep your brand essence true. It’s a fine balance.

Website writing shouldn’t be an afterthought. It should be a first thought.

If you know what it’s like to stare at a computer screen not knowing where to start, imagine how a web designer feels when asked to create a site with little more than your logo and a few scant details.

How would she know what kind of tone or personality to convey? Without at least a content outline, how would she know how the pages work with each other? Or what images are appropriate for the content on each page?

Having your copy written by a professional website writer at the beginning of the project greases the wheels. It gives everyone on your web development team a starting point, answers many questions and provides a clear lens into the bigger picture. Everything moves much more smoothly and, most importantly, your website gets finished and launched on time.

Louise Desmarais - website writerWritten by Louise Desmarais

A communications writer with a passion for words and all things web, Louise helps clients whose stories have gotten a little “muddy”. Her clear, purposeful and down-to-earth writing style has made her a go-to writer with companies across Canada and the U.S.