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Bruno Martins - Unsplash

Getting the words right on your site


But before you put words onto your website you need to be clear on two things:

  • What your users need to know
  • How to give them that information

This is obviously a big topic, and a lot of people will opt to get help from a specialist here. But, getting to grips with the basics can help you to create a stronger site with happier, more engaged users. So, let’s get into it.

What your users need to know

'Providing the information that the user needs means they can complete their tasks and contributes to a positive user experience.'

Your user, whether they are a customer, client or someone doing some research, has a goal or a task in mind. They might want to buy something from your site, find out whether they can book for you for an event, see which clients you’re working with or find a way to get in touch with you. Providing the information that the user needs means they can complete their tasks and contributes to a positive user experience.

To help understand what your users need to know, we like to borrow from software engineering and write a user story.

Image Credit: Jason Leung

'To write one, you define who your user is, what they want, and why they want that thing'

What is a user story?

A user story is a simple sentence that outlines the goal of the user. To write one, you define who your user is, what they want, and why they want that thing. Oh, and when your user has more than one goal, write two stories.

The format is:

As a [person in a particular role]
I want to [perform an action or find something out]
so that [I can achieve my goal of…]

Let’s break down these parts, using an example of an online stationery store. They might have three users they want to consider. A first-time customer, a wholesaler and a subscription customer.

So the first user:

As a first-time customer, I want to see what’s available on Amazing Stationery, so that I can buy a new notebook.

The wholesaler:

As a wholesaler, I want to get in touch with the owner of Amazing Stationery, so that I can send a catalogue to them directly.

The subscription customer:

As a subscription customer, I want to manage my subscription, so that I can update how often I’m getting my Amazing Stationery.

Of course, Amazing Stationery will have more users. But just by looking at these three, we can start to see that we’ll need content that tells users what’s on sale, probably broken down by type and brand, a way for wholesalers to get in touch with the site owner, and information on how customers can manage their Subscription service.

To learn more about understanding your user needs, and ordering your information to help them achieve their goals, you can try reading:

Content Design by Sarah Winters
How to Make Sense of Any Mess by Abby Covert

Giving users the information they need means making it as clear as understandable as possible. Part of this is about having a clear site structure or information architecture and having the information well-organised. Next, pay attention to the language you choose. Using the right language in the right situations for the right audiences also contributes to a positive user experience and helps you to build or maintain your customer relationships.

Remember that people don’t all consume information in the same way. Here are some people you need to consider when you’re writing:

  • people in a hurry
  • people with motor impairments
  • people who are stressed
  • people with visual impairments
  • people who are multi-tasking
  • people with low literacy
  • people with cognitive impairments.

When people come to Amazing Stationery, it’s important that people can access the information on the site. As the Content Design London team have emphasised, keeping content simple is not dumbing down, it’s opening up. Don’t be afraid to use simple language and keep your site to a low reading age. It just means that more people will be able to engage with what you’re doing.

Chances are, you’ll have the work on your site copy more than once. Since you’ll be doing some maintenance and updates to keep your site up to date, consider adopting some content principles for your site. Here are a few you might like to adopt or adapt:

  • Use simple words and phrases. Don’t use or invent jargon.
  • Be clear about the value for the user to help people make good decisions.
  • Provide facts and data to guide users and use numbers where necessary.
  • Add personality where it’s appropriate- don’t be funny if it means adding confusion.

To learn more about writing content for your users, you can try reading:

Copywrong to Copywriter by Tait Ischia
Nicely Said by Nicole Fenton and Kate Kiefer Lee

How to give them that information



Thursday 4th November 2021

Co-founder @ Pixel Together

The PXT team


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