If you take just one thing away from our time together on this blog, please, let it be this.
Write your website content in one document.
Sounds simple, yet almost everyone does the exact opposite.
This newsletter explains WHY writing your content in one document, away from your website, is crucial.
And is relevant for those who are designing a website for themselves, and those working with a web designer.
I will split this article into two parts:
Firstly, making for a smooth website delivery
In my very early years in business (think 2015/16), as a new web designer, I used to receive content from clients like this:
And this experience is a lot more common than you might think. It’s the same story I hear again and again from frustrated web designers.
I’ve even had a designer tell me they received content “Scribbled on a scrap piece of paper, and posted through their letterbox”.
I know some web designers have cracked this (especially those that are already collaborating with me 😉), but many still haven't.
The trouble is, when clients aren’t given clear instructions and boundaries, they don’t realise they are doing something wrong. It’s not the client's fault. But they do suffer.
That’s why it’s important for the web designer to set expectations early in the relationship so that the project runs smoothly. By early, I mean before money changes hands.
Solving this content headache by writing in one document is absolutely crucial for a successful outcome for both parties. It will speed up the content collection dramatically and have everyone feeling relaxed about the process instead of stressed and confused.
A happy web designer equals a happy client and vice versa.
Win-wins are always the best outcome for doing business.
Secondly, the quality of your content will suffer if it’s not produced in one document
Writing copy, either directly into your website (if you’re building it yourself) or spread out in various different documents, will have a negative impact on the overall success of your website.
Here are four reasons why:
1. Your website is one living, breathing organism. Each page must speak to the other pages, connecting your message through a web of internal links.
This is exactly why I refuse to write two or three isolated pages from a larger website. Not only will the tone be inconsistent, but the pages will also be disjointed.
To help build a cohesive website, you must write in one document.
2. You need to keep your content concise while covering your entire message.
The only way to make sure you're covering exactly the right information, without waffling or missing bits, is to properly plan your content. This can only be accomplished by writing the entire website copy inside one document.
3. If you write content inside your website building platform you will get distracted by colours, fonts, and other design elements.
This applies to both web-designers and those who are DIYing their websites. You need to absorb yourself into the pain, struggle, hopes and dreams of your ideal client. You can’t do this properly inside your website platform without getting distracted.
Building empathy and understanding is one of the core values at Gibson Copy, this can only be achieved if all of the writer's focus is on writing.
4. Your content must be properly organised.
The first thing you need to do after opening that fresh website content document is to write a list of pages at the top (your sitemap). This is such a simple thing but absolutely crucial if you’re going to avoid random, disjointed pages and disorganised content.
This also applies to making sure all headings, subheadings and sections are positioned correctly (and nothing is missing!).
In my experience as a former web designer and someone who teaches people how to write website copy, most people either send content to their web designer in dribs and drabs (unless of course, the web designer already has clear guidelines to stop this from happening) or they write (tweak) the copy directly inside the website platform.
I hope this newsletter has shown you why both of these situations are detrimental to the success of your website.
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Dr Hannah Gibson