The Non-profit’s Quick Guide - Nine Tips For Successful Web Copy
With so much a nonprofit needs to say about their cause it’s a tough pill to swallow when there is little to no time to write for the organization’s website. Supplying web copy is often a site owner/web editor’s greatest hurdle, so let’s look at some elements that you can use when planning your content to make it easier for you to get your message out and your readers to stay engaged.
1. Keep it simple
Timing is a very scarce resource so keep your text as simple as possible - don’t write a paragraph if a line will do. This saves you time writing and your visitors’ time reading. Remember that your readers might not understand your Non-profits’ lingo, so keep any technical speak and jargon off your web pages as much as possible.
2. Scan your content
Most people scan web pages for the information that they need. Check that your web content is very scannable - do you have short paragraphs, bolded text, headings and subheadings, bullet points and obvious links? Make sure you do as they break up the page for easy ‘scanability.’
Once you have your simple message down, go through and edit. Then go through and edit again. In this age where social media is everywhere, people are used to reading small snippets of information so keep your paragraphs short and your message concise.
4. Tell your visitors what to do
Also known as a call to action - make sure that your web page tells your visitors what it is that you want them to do. You would be surprised how often this simple thing is forgotten! Do you want visitors to donate, find out more about you, spread the word? Whatever it is you want them to do on that specific page, make it obvious. And don’t confuse them, have one call to action per page.
5. Lead the way - create flow
Make sure you have links from your content to important pages on your website. Again, keeping it simple, use linking to lead the way for your visitors. If you don’t want them to donate from the home page, but want to take them on a journey so they can get to know your organization better, use hyperlinks to lead them through your website to the intended destination [the Donate Now button!]
6. Remove obstacles
Keeping your text simple and leading the way via linking helps remove obstacles. Your visitors might not consciously realize they have obstacles in their way, but they know they’re having a hard time understanding what they are supposed to do, or where they are supposed to go. Downloadable files can be obstacles. Place your content on a web page as much as possible unless you are offering large reports or white papers, which should be available in PDF format for universal accessibility.
7. Keep it human
Remember that above all you are writing for human beings, not search engines, and that your content should be interesting. You can read more on how to use search engine optimization [SEO] on your web content, but keep that as a secondary importance. If your web pages are optimized well but the content is boring, or hard to read, your visitors won’t stay and support your cause online - so write for them and they will remain engaged and come back for more.
8. Don't leave the best for last
You really have just a second or two to impress your visitors so make sure your web page has a captivating title and first paragraph, because if you don’t they won’t even scan to the bottom of the copy, let alone scroll.
9. Say what you have to say then stop
If you only have nine things to say, like I do, don’t try and stretch it out to a number that sounds ‘good,’ like ten. And this brings us nicely back around to number one and keeping it simple!
Take these nine tips and apply them to your web copy and you will have more engagement and interaction on your site. Good luck!