Maybe it’s just me, but I love browsing new websites. Every time I see someone on Instagram launch their website, I almost always click on the link and do a quick scan of their design and copy, and the new offers they’re launching.
I’m a copywriter. So of course, I have to look over their website words and see what they are, and what is good and bad about them.
I’m not judging, I promise. 😀
Let’s talk about it, though. What are the biggest mistakes creatives are making on their website copy?
Not saying the basics
Have you ever seen pieces of art that have pictures inside pictures? My parents have one hanging on their kitchen wall. It is a rendering of Psalm 1. If you step back and look though, you can see that the tree branches make the shape of Jesus, as if He is looking down over the river. But it’s almost impossible to see the outline of His face unless you take several steps back and look at the picture from a distance.
That picture on my parents’ wall demonstrates one of the biggest mistakes I see in website copy: creative business owners that seem to be too close to the picture. This results in businesses often not actually saying the basics of what they do.
I get it! We understand the ins and outs of our business so well that sometimes we forget that we never told anyone that we… actually just take pictures. Or design websites.
It’s easy to fix this mistake. Say what you do. If you’re a designer, say you’re a designer. It’s okay to use fancy messaging sometimes, but make sure that first you’re saying the basics.
Using generic or insider words
This morning this Instagram post caught my eye. It says simply, “Using jargon is a sign of insecurity, not intelligence.”
Jargon is defined as “special words or expressions that are used by a particular profession or group and are difficult for others to understand.” Otherwise known as “insider language.”
Similarly, I see creatives (I’m guilty of this myself!) using words that are overused or not specific. Know your industry, and know what words are used most frequently. Avoid those. 🙂 Or, bare minimum, use them differently or acknowledge that they are common.
Don’t use generic or insider language in your website or brand copy. It will end up being meaningless. If your audience doesn’t understand you, you might as well have not said anything in the first place. Be specific and avoid words that only insiders know.
These next three points are about mistakes I frequently see in HOW you should format and design the copy on your website.
Headlines that don’t stand out
In the copywriting world, a headline is the six-ish word sentence that captures the attention of your audience and tells them what to expect out of what is coming. Think newspaper headline. These headlines should not be the same size as the rest of your copy. Make sure they contrast with the rest of the words on your website.
Paragraphs not broken up
On this point, I’m tempted to drop screenshots of websites that have actual miles of unbroken paragraphs—and then ask you if YOU would read that on someone else’s website. For some of us more wordy creatives, it is an easy trap to fall into!
I want to make sure you know though: if your website copy is all run together, with no way for your eye to track where it is supposed to go, it is almost a guarantee that no one is reading it all. Your mom might, and that’s nice. But break up those long paragraphs into different canvases. Use bullet points. Use italics and bold font. You’re writing a website, not a book.
Copy smashing is similar to not breaking up your paragraphs, but slightly different. I define copy smashing as not giving your words room to breathe. Make sure you have space between your headline and sub-headline. Our eyes need that white space. Don’t cram it all together. Your copy should flow like a story or a movie–easy to track and understand what is happening.
If your website has any of these mistakes, don’t despair! Take the time to edit your website with these common mistakes in mind, and watch it make the browsing experience irresistible.
Apply for copywriting help
If you feel totally overwhelmed with the thought of editing your copy, you don’t have to despair about that, either. That’s why God made copywriters lol. Click here to apply to get on my schedule!