Good content starts with strategy

Are You Sabotaging Your Own Website?

Posted by Amy Peveto on February 18, 2014

Recently I attended “Don’t be a 5-Second Site,” an AMA San Antonio-hosted meetup where presenter Brittany Tradup of Robot Creative spoke on the challenges of web writing. Tradup shared some great tips on writing for the web, and I want to add more context around the entire subject of website copywriting.

What is a “5-second site”?

Have you ever come across a website that is so bad you immediately hit the “Back” button? That is a five-second site.

The average page visit lasts less than one minute, and many consumers decide within seconds whether or not your website is worth their time. If you don’t provide the answer they need, off they go — possibly to your competitor.

7 steps to a better web page

If visitors come to your website and are overwhelmed by volumes of bad content, you will never convert them into customers.

Tradup’s presentation centered around the argument that web writing is not the same as writing for print; web visitors need content that is concise, scannable, and objective (so ixnay on the sales pitches).

Here’s a quick look at Tradup’s steps for “translating” printed copy to the web:

  1. Cut 50% - Remove boastful marketing text, sales-related hyperbole, and “fluff” content
  2. Break it up - Each paragraph should express only one thought, and take up no more than four lines on the (digital) page
  3. Add headings - Readers should get the main points of your entire article just by looking at the headings
  4. Use lists and links - Bulleted/numbered links and hyperlinks catch the eye and are easy to skim
  5. Don’t underestimate page design/layout - Keep the page simple and easy to take in at a glance
  6. Add graphic and videos - Share your message in visual as well as textual ways
  7. Have a CTA (call to action) - Tell readers what to do next

These are fantastic recommendations from which many websites could benefit, but they’re not the whole story.

You can have the most beautiful, best written content in the world; but if it doesn’t matter to your audience, it will never lead them to convert.

Step away from the keyboard

Before you start writing content or adjusting your printed materials for the web, take a step back.

It’s great that you’re finally getting that brochure turned into a piece of digital content, but does your audience care about the topic? You’ve followed step one of Tradup’s plan and cut the fluff, but does the remaining content provide value to your visitors?

Strategy comes first

Think strategically before you think tactically. Spend the time it takes to properly develop buyer personas; don’t waste time creating content that doesn’t interest your target audience.

The goal of your website is to give visitors the information they want as quickly as possible. If yours is a dreaded five-second site, you should be thinking, “I need a redesign.”

Let’s get started 


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Submitted by Dwight Cocran on Tue, 04/01/2014 - 12:04pm

Hi Amy,

This article contains very useful information which makes so much sense it is almost scary. I guess if ones intention is just to write for writing sake, but I believe that writers write so they have people who read it. Therefore unless the content is written to either entertain, problem solve or educate then why is someone going to read it.

You are completely correct in saying find out what people want and give it to them.


Submitted by Amy Peveto on Tue, 04/01/2014 - 12:12pm

Thanks, Dwight! The presenter at the event had a lot of great info to share, but I wish she'd at least mentioned the higher-level goal of creating content that appeals to your audience.

The content we create as marketers or employees or business owners needs to look good, yes, but it ALSO needs to solve customers' problems...otherwise, as you say, why would someone read it?