The role I play in my company is “designer”. I do the copywriting, user experience and graphical design on our web based products. For me, as well as most other designers, the lines between these tasks are blurry. My job goal is to shape our website into something instantly understandable—making the decision to signup or leave a very easy choice to make. Once a person is registered, it’s my job to turn this new customer into a power customer, and finally, into a product evangelist.
“Brochure” – any pages before the signup form/login form of a web app.
“Application” – anything after the signup form or login form.
“User” – Stop using this word. They are people. Customers. Writing for a person might make your copy more clear and pointed.
One of the hardest tasks I have is designing content for the brochure of our website. Let’s face it, no one actually wants to read your copy. They want an instant osmosis of information.
We build pages like Tour, Features and FAQs to do what, explain our app? Please stop thinking like that! These pages explain features and WHAT they do but not HOW they’re used.
A new workflow/process/product/way of thinking that’s probably replacing an old way of doing something. An add-on to the user’s existing workflow or an add-on to something they’re already using or doing. People will find value in your product when they realize it will bring them more joy, less stress and/or added productivity from using it. For a person to change, they must see this value instantly. (Hint: they’ll pay once they’ve seen/experienced this value.)
Explain that the app can be used within an existing workflow or show them the new waaaay better workflow your app gives them. If you’re explaining the features, the potential user has to then translate that into a workflow. Don’t slow them down. Show them how to use your app.
Links for Workflow:
Break content into small, readable/scanable chunks of copy. Add graphical elements to pull the their eyes through the content. Use clear text headers so that someone can easily find just what they’re looking for.
Links for Users:
If you can’t explain your product in one sentence, you’re in trouble. Whatever you say in 3 paragraphs can be edited down to 3 sentences. From Quickbooks’ website… “2011 features give you access to the data you need, when you need it, and make everyday tasks more efficient.” Really? Seriously? What does that even mean?
Links for Writing:
When you’re trying to convince a person to replace their existing workflow, they’ll come to your site looking for commonalities. They don’t want to stray too far. Ever tried a new food? It’s human nature to compare the flavor of a dish with something it reminds you of. Same goes for music and web applications. Here’s LessAccounting summed up in one sentence: “It’s a simple, easy variety of Quickbooks for small businesses.”
With LessAccounting the people know they need “invoicing”. They know they need to “record expenses”, and their accountant told them something about a “general ledger”. They’re looking for those words—searching for what they know. These words help them feel safe about leaving the comfort zone of their existing workflow. Make these keywords easy to find. In our situation, we have a lot of people coming to lessaccounting.com who are looking for a “general ledger” and a lot of people who don’t know what a “general ledger” is.
You don’t have to tell every potential customer about every feature. Your goal is to move them through the steps so they’re not getting stuck trying to understand every single thing right now. This comes with refinement. Constantly tweak and refine your copywriting and content to bring fluidity. Realize the writing process is never officially over. Copy has to evolve in order to accommodate interest.
Selling is just that, getting the person to the next step. Get them to say “yes” and proceed to the next step. Rinse and repeat.
Now go make your content better, if you want me to review your app just ask.
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