Amanda Jesnoewski is the owner of Velocity Media + Communications and a copywriter, marketing strategist and publicist.
Six usability mistakes businesses make with their web copy
When it comes to writing for the web, to make your copy truly effective there is a lot you need to do in a small amount of time. You need to be compelling and establish your value quickly, though you also need to make sure your copy is easy to read, easy to understand and leads your web visitor somewhere – preferably to a sale.
Unfortunately for most businesses their web copy doesn’t even come close to doing this. To make sure you’re not in the majority, here are six usability mistakes most businesses are making with their web copy and how you can avoid them to make sure you get the results you want.
Mistake #1: Choosing pretty fonts instead of practical fonts
With a wide range of fonts to choose from it can be tempting to go for a font that will look more attractive to make a statement or differentiate you from other sites. The only challenge is many of these fonts can be harder to read, particularly on a computer screen that is hard enough to read on.
When it comes to the web (and really the same applies across all your marketing material) fonts like Arial, Calibri, Tahoma and other smooth, rounded fonts make your text easier to read for your visitors. Also keep in mind the size, colour and spacing of your text as this will impact readability too.
Mistake #2: Not having critical content above the fold
The space above the fold (where people don’t have to scroll down to see text or images) is prime real estate on your website so be sure to make the most of it. Instead of sticking a large image that doesn’t establish your value or what you do, place your most critical and compelling information there so your reader has incentive to scroll down.
It could be a paragraph, a sentence or a headline, there is no rule as to how much text there should be, just as long as it gives your reader a reason to read more. The less you rely on your reader scrolling the better.
Mistake #3: Not giving mobile users access to your full website
You’ve no doubt experienced the frustration of using your mobile to access a website you regularly use on your desktop only to find you can't access what you need to. So don't disadvantage (or annoy) your mobile visitors by giving them a limited version of your website. Mobile users should have the same usability and search ability as desktop users.
It is important to check your website on your mobile and see what your website looks like to readers and what they can see above the fold as this can often vary depending on the device they are using.
Mistake #4: Not having a clear sales process or navigational path
One of the first steps you should take when planning your website is to work out what you want your readers to do on each page and where you want them to go next. Do they need to be guided through a number of pages in order to make the sale or will they get everything they need to purchase off the one?
Ask yourself what path would you ultimately like them to take through your website? What page should they visit first? What page should they visit second and so on? Once you have worked out where they should go, make sure it is easily signalled in your copy along with a call to action that allows them to act now if they want to.
Mistake #5: Not having a website pages that are easily digested in five to 10 seconds
On the web you have 5-10 seconds to grab the attention of your reader – the time it takes to read a headline and maybe your first sentence. You don’t have long at all to establish what you do and what value you can provide, but you need to find a way.
It used to be just your home page you had to do this on as that was the main point of entry to your website, but now your reader’s search could land them on any page from your blog to your service page, your about us to your contact page, so every web page needs to establish your value, start solving a problem or provide the information your reader is looking for within 5-10 seconds.
Mistake #6: Not making it easy for a visitor to get in contact with you
So many businesses are becoming faceless online, only allowing their web visitors to contact them through a designated contact form, while this can work with some industries and businesses, most consumers want to be able to get in touch with you in a variety of ways like phone, email, social media and a contact form.
Minimise your web visitor’s frustration by making it easy for them to get in touch with you. Where possible include your phone, email and social media contact details on every page or in your side bar so regardless of what page your web visitor is on they can get in contact with you easily. If you are worried about listing your email because of spam, then spell it out in full like amanda(at)velocitymedia(dot)com(dot)au.