The Only Rules That Matter: 12 UX Rules For Writing Killer Web Copy

When writing website copy, with so many different elements to consider, it can be challenging to know where to start. 

That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive guide on everything you need to know about writing killer web copy. 

We’ve included 12 rules that every User Experience researcher, writer, and designer follows so that you can create content that converts visitors into customers and increases customer engagement.

So if you’re ready to learn how to write website copy that gets results, keep reading!

The first step is understanding how copy and design work together on a website to optimize user engagement.

How Visitors Engage Your Website

User Experience (UX) researchers have found that people read web pages in an F-shaped pattern: they scan the top and left side of the page for headlines and critical points and then move down the page, reading in a shorter horizontal band.

Given this F-shaped pattern, keeping your most important information at the top of the page where people will see it is essential. 

Website copy should be concise and to the point, so readers can quickly find what they’re looking for.

Use Design & Digital Storytelling 

The best websites use an interplay of content and design to make the copy dynamic and engaging.

That’s why designers play an essential role in how users interact with website copy. The layout, font choice, and whitespace use can influence how easily people read and understand the content on a page.

When writing web copy, work with designers to help break up the content:

– Use short sentences and paragraphs

– Make use of headings and subheadings

– Use bullet points or lists where appropriate

– Use solid keywords and calls to action

– Use images, illustrations, infographics, and videos to break up the text

Now that you have the basic foundation of how copy and designs work together to create engaging user experiences let’s review 12 UX rules to help you create killer web copy.

Rule #1: Assist users in achieving their goals.

Aside from providing helpful information, web copy should help users achieve their goals. So instead of trying to appeal to customers with marketing copy, think about your website visitors’ goals when they come to your website. 

  • What are they trying to achieve? 
  • How can you help them?
  • What actions are most important to them?

UX writers guide users on apps and digital products, making it as natural as possible to accomplish the task at hand and reduce friction. So when you develop your website copy, think like a UX writer. 

Consider:

  • Is the flow of information structured logically and straightforward? 
  • Is your website intuitively easy to navigate? 

Web copy that considers user experience can be more effective than web copy written without the user experience in mind.

Rule #2: Speak the user’s language.

UX writers rely on customer personas to communicate messages effectively. Using customer personas to inform messaging across channels (email, web, social media) is a good rule of thumb. 

Some may wonder, “How do I find out the exact language of my users?” One answer is social media. If you have a list of potential buyers or key decision-makers, conduct a Google Search and review your results. (If you still need to create a prospecting list, use an existing list of customers).

If you’re in the B2B space, your decision-makers are likely on LinkedIn. If so, go to their profiles and check out their posts. Look at:

  • How do they write? 
  • What things do they like/share/comment on? 
  • Do they write articles on LinkedIn or Medium, perhaps? 
  • Have they been interviewed on podcasts? 

Discover where your audience hangs out and be curious about their behavior:

  • What topics do they engage in?
  • How do they engage with content? 
  • What emotions do they express?
  • Who do they follow? (Influencers and Thought Leaders)
  • What content do they share?
  • What do they write in the comments of other people’s posts?

This data should give you some initial insights into your users’ behaviors, what they value, and the language they use. 

Rule #3: Expect users to scan.

Users can decide in as little as five seconds whether your site is helpful to them. As we discovered earlier, users often scan pages in an F pattern focusing on the top left side of the page, headings, and the first few words of a sentence or list. 

On average, users only read the first two words on each line. 

Here are some facts to consider when writing web content:

  • In a 2008 study, based on an analysis of 45,237 page views, Neilson and Morkes found that web users only read about 18% of what’s on the page.
  • The users’ reading percentage goes down as the number of words on a page increases.
  • To get users to read half of your words, limit your page to 110 words or fewer.

(Source: https://www.plainlanguage.gov/guidelines/web/)

While the information presented in a whitepaper or blog is helpful, it needs to be in a suitable format for the web. 

Remember, people scan web pages and only read about 18 percent of what’s on the page. You may want to cut whatever you have in print form by 50 percent!

According to Government Guidelines, good web content uses:

  • The inverted pyramid style: 

Begin with the shortest and most straightforward statement you can make about your topic. Put the most critical information at the top and the background at the bottom.

  • Chunked content: 

Don’t try to pack everything into long paragraphs—split topics up into logical sections separated by informative headings.

  • Only necessary information: 

Use only the information your users need to achieve their top tasks. Omit unnecessary information.

  • Remember

Your content is not clear unless your users can:

  1. Find what they need
  2. Understand what they find
  3. Use what they find to meet their needs

Think – conciseness, intuitiveness, and brevity.

Rule #4: Don’t overcomplicate your vocabulary. 

Try to avoid using complicated words, jargon, and filler words. Here are some examples of what to remove from your web copy.

Source: https://convertkit.com/stop-superfluous-fancy-words-killing-copy-bottom-line

According to Avery Blank, Senior Contributor for Forbes, here are some common words powerful people avoid:

“Just” (protector words)

The word “just” diminishes the content that follows this word.

“Very,” “Absolutely,” and “Totally” (drama words)

Words such as “very,” “absolutely,” or “totally” do not add value to the noun you want to describe or highlight.

 “I think…” or “Arguably” (protector words)

Every thought you put out there is your opinion. You do not need to preface your ideas with “I think.”

“Actually” and “Obviously” (superior words)

Words such as “actually” and “obviously” can rub people the wrong way. These words suggest that the other person does not understand the issue or circumstance (and that you are right) or understands something (when they may not).

Source

Rule #5: Humor, think twice before you use it!

It might be funny once, but saying the same joke over and over becomes tiresome and even frustrating for users. Choose humor carefully. 

Rule #6: Avoid long blocks of text.

Help visitors navigate your website by writing it in short, scannable blocks—chunk text into shorter sentences and paragraphs. Keep the most crucial text up front and then ruthlessly edit what comes after it.

Write short and then cut it into half.

Rule #7: Avoid double negatives.

Double negatives increase cognitive load, making users spend extra time deciphering the message.

Don’t: I do not want to unsubscribe

Do: I want to unsubscribe 

Rule #8: Begin with the objective.

When a sentence describes an objective and the action needed to achieve it, start the sentence with the objective.

Don’t: Tap on food to see its ingredients.

Do: To see the food’s ingredients, tap on it.

Rule #9: Make the copy consistent

Inconsistency creates confusion. One example of inconsistency is replacing a word with a synonym in a different part of the website. 

For example, if you decide to call the process of arranging a meeting “Scheduling” on one part of your website, do not call it a “Booking” on another page.

Another common mistake is addressing your users in both first and second-person interchangeably on your website.

For example:

Don’t refer to the user in the second person and the first person within the same phrase.

Don’t: Change your preferences in My Booking

Do: Change your preferences in Your Booking

Rule #10: Write in the present tense

Avoid using the future tense to describe the action.

Don’t: Image has been downloaded.

Do: Image downloaded.

Rule #11: Write in the active voice

The passive voice makes readers yawn. Compare this sentence in both voices:

Don’t: The Buy button should be clicked when you are ready to purchase a product.

Do: Click the Buy button to purchase a product.

Rule #12: Use numerals

Use numerals in place of words for numbers.

Don’t: You have two missed calls.

Do: You have 2 missed calls.

Source: Nich Babich, a product designer & editor-in-chief of UX Planet. 

There you have it, folks! 12 Rules for writing killer web copy. 

And if you scanned this article, here’s an abbreviated version of the list:

  • Rule 1: Assist users in achieving their goals.
  • Rule 2: Speak the user’s language.
  • Rule 3: Expect users to scan.
  • Rule 4: Don’t overcomplicate your vocabulary. 
  • Rule 5: Humor, think twice before you use it!
  • Rule 6: Avoid long blocks of text.
  • Rule 7: Avoid double negatives.
  • Rule 8: Begin with the objective.
  • Rule 9: Make your copy consistent. 
  • Rule 10: Write in the present tense.
  • Rule 11: Write in the active voice.
  • Rule 12: Use numerals.

https://uxplanet.org/16-rules-of-effective-ux-writing-2a20cf85fdbf

https://uxplanet.org/16-rules-of-effective-ux-writing-2a20cf85fdbf

The Ultimate Holiday Guide: 3 Tips for Perfect Packaging

The holidays are a crucial time for eCommerce businesses. In 2018, online sales in the US reached almost $500 billion, and they are predicted to grow to over $740 billion by 2023. If you want a piece of the pie, you must make sure your products stand out from the competition. One way to do that is with great packaging. Read on for our top tips on creating holiday packaging that will impress your customers and boost your sales.

Consider Your Branding

First things first, you need to make sure your holiday packaging fits with your brand identity. If you usually go for minimalist design, don’t go overboard with sloppy handwriting and gaudy colors just because it’s Christmas. Conversely, if you have a fun and playful brand, now is the time to let your personality shine through. Make sure your choices are consistent with the rest of your branding so customers can easily recognize your products.

Make It Festive Without Going Overboard

Once you’ve considered how to incorporate the holidays into your branding in a way that is true to who you are as a company, it’s time to start thinking about design details. This is where things can start to get tricky. You want your packaging to be festive but not so festive that it looks cheap or tacky. A good rule of thumb is to use one or two seasonal elements and stick to them throughout your holiday packaging. For example, if you decide on red and green as your holiday colors, use those colors consistently on all of your packages, labels, and tags. Then, add a little bit of holiday-themed flair with some pinecones or holly berries—just don’t go overboard!

Keep It Classy With Simple Designs and Quality Materials

When in doubt, less is more regarding holiday packaging designs. Stick with classic shapes like rectangle boxes or cylinder tubes wrapped in quality materials like kraft paper or matte-finish label stock. Then add a touch of gold or silver foil for an elevated look that says luxury without going over the top. Remember, understated elegance will always be in style!

Conclusion 

Great holiday packaging can take your business to the next level by helping you stand out from the competition and boost sales. When designing your holiday packaging, keep your brand identity front and center while incorporating festive elements tastefully. And finally, don’t forget that simple designs and quality materials are always a winning combination!

New Season, New Trends

Spring is here, and new trends are blooming. Here’s a list of our favorites for you to try and incorporate this coming season: 

Minimalism – We always say less is more and we stand by that in all aspects of life, and design. You can never go wrong with a minimal vibe. The minimalism trend feels like an evergreen direction that plays right into the hands of generations that are growing up familiar with common web conventions and patterns. Some aspects of minimalism to consider in web design include:

  • Avoid excess of details: color transitions, shadows, textures
  • Use only three colors max at once
  • Implement fonts creatively as a graphic element

Dark Mode – This trend is major for all of us who stare at our screens all day. You may have noticed that dark mode is popular with large tech products. Here are the main reasons for the trend:

  • It reduces eye strain in low-light conditions.
  • It saves device battery power 
  • It allows for highlighting other design elements

Thumb-Friendly Mobile Navigation –  Most of us are glued to our phones, which means that we are playing around with websites and apps with our thumbs more and more. Given the increase in user engagement on mobile devices, more and more web building companies are prioritizing the mobile (as opposed to the desktop) experience. By adjusting your site to not only be mobile friendly, but thumb friendly, you can significantly boost impressions! 

Data Visualization– Although this isn’t a new trend per-se it’s something we felt compelled to mention. It is always going to be needed, and isn’t limited to a single style. Instead, it is a way of thinking about problems. Incorporating data points in one’s messaging and visual language is a great way of showing users WHY they should care about something, and not just WHAT they should care about.

Voice User Interfaces– This trend is less related to web design, but does have resounding effects on quick user interactions as well as accessibility. We can expect to see more and more websites integrating VUI’s over text for users to search. Importantly, this can also create a more inclusive experience for people with disabilities. Here are some of it’s advantages:

  • Handsfree
  • Intuitive
  • Speedy
  • Interactive

At C&R we love staying up to date with design trends, not only because it helps our brands create meaningful impact, but also because it’s fun! We always take special care to think about as many audiences as possible in order to create a user friendly digital experience for all.

Connecting to Your Brand’s Purpose

Purpose is the reason for which something is done, created, or simply exists. In the world of branding, purpose is the “why” behind your brand.

Brand purpose is like salt to a recipe. It alone can season a dish, creating depth of flavor. It is often the first component—a layer of the foundation—and you’ll rarely find a recipe that doesn’t call for it. Without it, food is bland, but with salt, or brand purpose, we can build complex, enticing flavors and narratives that keep us coming back for more.

Purpose-driven brands are a true expression of passion and all the little ingredients that comprise your brand experience. To find your “why” you need to delve deep into the abyss. You need to ask the right questions. You need to connect to your customers, your product experience, your current marketing, your internal team members, your data, your leadership. You need to understand what you stand for. It is in our human nature to search for meaning in everything that we do, so it is essential to find your way and create connections. By leading with your “why,” your brand purpose, you create an emotional connection with your audience, which allows them to rationalize and justify their interactions with your brand. As you begin to communicate your “why” to your audience, see what resonates with them and be fluid, adjusting accordingly. Make sure your “why” is clear and make sure that it drives everything your brand does.

Simon Sinek said it best: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” The first step to building brand loyalty is nailing your brand identity through strategic creative—that’s where we come in. Branding marries art and strategy by combining deep research with brand positioning, creative finesse and smart messaging.

As a digital and branding agency, we’re here to help you express your brand purpose to your target audience. Websites are the go-to for learning about your brand; it’s the place where your whole story is communicated. Our approach leads you down a path of brand analysis and implementation that ends in the ultimate treasure: your digital identity.

So remember: brand purpose is like salt to a recipe. Although a seemingly small addition, it is a critical component to the success of a dish, or your brand. Are you ready to add that dash?