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  • Sam Schofield

Don't sink your new website with bad copywriting

Some businesses get away with very little copy on their website. Think Apple. Their products are so recognisable, their brand so well known, there is little they need to convey in words. They've been doing it with their advertising for years; simply an eye-catching image of a famous person with the words "Think Different" in one corner.

Most businesses can't get away with such minimalism. And while there is definitely an argument to be made for keeping copy as succinct as possible (I would advocate the same), chances are some explanation of who you are, what you do, the benefits of your products, is necessary.

Many businesses re-do their websites every few years. This gives everything a refresh. Boosts traffic. More closely meets the latest brand changes. And hopefully serves the audience better than the previous version. The copy is usually a big part of the process and, for many, this can involve numerous stakeholders: the project management team, the business senior management team, designers, consultants, and the copywriter(s), of course.

This can be very challenging to manage and employing an expert copywriter to do this for you - someone who has gone through this process with multiple clients before - can save a huge amount of time and money.

When too many cooks stir the pot, however, and the 15th round of amendments has come back and everyone just wants this off their desk now, mistakes can creep in. That change made by Barry from sales to page 54 is accepted a little too quickly and suddenly that section reads like a GCSE student wrote it.

I came across a recent example when a former client decided to redesign their website for the first time in years (it needed it). Unfortunately, Schofield Communications was not employed to work on the project, but despite this I took a keen interest in browsing the site when it was complete. Being a copywriter of 20 years, of course I paid close attention to the content. To the credit of the team that worked on it, it reads very well. But then I found that one paragraph that had clearly been written by someone else and somehow made it through the cracks to appear on a prominent section of the site. I won't name the business but the paragraph reads:

"Allowing engineers to make the world a better place has sustainability at its core be it reducing the impact of climate change and sustainable foods to tackle food poverty or driving the circular economy and delivering economic growth via a strong and successful UK engineering and manufacturing sector."

There is a lot wrong with this "sentence". Firstly, it makes very little sense. You can see what the writer is driving at but they've essentially just poured their thoughts onto the page without thinking about the reader. It makes sense to them in their head. We can see what they're trying to say. But what they've actually said makes no sense.

Secondly, "engineers" and "engineering" in the same sentence is poor writing, on top of jargon like "circular economy" and you can guarantee your reader gets to the end without understanding a word of what they just read. I had to go through it several times before I understood what the writer was getting at. A little more digging revealed that it was lifted word for word from the company's "Sustainability Statement".

If I were to fix this paragraph...

"Sustainability is at the core of engineering. Tackling climate change, improving the food supply chain, and creating better recycling methods, are just some of the areas engineers are working hard to find solutions. A strong and successful UK engineering and manufacturing sector is essential for a sustainable future."

High quality copy is the difference between your website looking amateurish and professional. That differentiation can mean everything. If you want your website to stand out and make a lasting impression on your audience, a professional copywriter is invaluable.



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