Have you ever read a website, found the tone impersonal, unfriendly and boring, and wondered if a human actually wrote it? Your website visitors want to feel and experience a friendly, lively, individual tone of voice. They want to imagine that you are talking directly to them one-to-one. You need to remember that you are writing for a reader who is human, a person who has feelings.
Provide worthwhile content
Your website should be demonstrating (aided by good navigation and appropriate design) impressive and thought-provoking content. When you write high-quality content, you will continue to attract people who want to return to your website many times over. Your readers want to feel they are on a website where they are being spoken to by a person who is knowledgeable, intelligent and experienced in what he/she is saying. That’s where the clichéd phrase ‘content is king’ begins to have new meaning – write content which is compelling, factual and interesting.
Be friendly and persuasive
If your website is primarily sales-oriented and the language needs to be persuasive then remember this: people are wary of hype. Hype forces your readers to exercise their critical judgment and ask themselves: “What? Really? Can this be true?” Your web visitors can rapidly lose interest if your product says it is “the best” or “the cheapest” without providing them clear benefits and the facts. Explain the benefits (advantages) to them in simple language. When you are trying to entice potential customers to buy your product put yourself in their mindset. Enthusiasm is desirable, but exaggeration can create suspicion and drive people away. Even if your website is a non-profit website and you are not trying to sell anyone anything just show people what their contribution will achieve in concrete terms.
Use the right tone of voice
Some corporate and organisational websites have a very remote tone of voice with a heavy emphasis on the word “we”. Although “we” may be more appropriate than “I” for an organisation it can however, come across to the reader as impersonal. On an organisation’s website, you will need to build rapport and create a connection with your reader. Appealing more directly to the reader through increased use of the pronoun, “you” in the website content can help you as the writer to:
- focus on your readers needs
- make your writing easier to understand
- suggest a human voice to the reader
- engage your readers at a more emotional, subconscious level
Remember, your web visitors are more than just ‘page hits’.