Writing that BOPS
Trust us to write seriously awesome content for your brand
We’re really proud to bring a digital life to the brands we work with. Our savvy account managers meet with clients and dig into their goals. Then they pass on the message to the creators—us: writers, designers, and developers.
The writing part of the digital experience is the one we’ll be covering in this article because it unfortunately doesn’t always get the love it deserves. We happen to know what it takes to make great writing happen. There’s more to a good website than design and development. Here’s how the writers at Twirling Umbrellas make sure your content is on-brand and optimized for websites. We check that it BOPS.
What it means to write visually
When we write content, we consider how that content will look, not just what it’s saying. Whether your user is browsing your website on a desktop or a phone, they’ll prefer content that’s visually appealing because it’s more fun to look at and it helps them retain what they’re reading. Plus, it makes it easier for our designers to incorporate nice imagery.
Writing for the web is a unique facet of writing. Users will easily get lost if all they’re seeing is large paragraphs. By coming up with creative and bite-size ways to display your words, we’re guiding them through their reading experience, rather than forcing them to swallow large quantities of information.
Our four golden rules of writing
Of course, when we write for websites, we have information to cover. That includes specific details, messaging, and about pages. Our job is to get that content, and anything else that’s relevant, online. But we also want to get it there the right way.
While we’re writing, we’re constantly checking to make sure our content is brief, original, full of personality, and well structured. Let’s dig into what that means.
First and foremost, we want to communicate our clients’ messages loud and clear. We believe that clarity comes from brevity. Website visitors don’t have unlimited time for scrolling through web content. And they’re much more likely to take the time to read a webpage that’s succinct and informative. It also just looks better—and it makes our designers’ lives easier!
Secondly, brevity is so important for mobile websites. And let’s be honest, we all love to scroll through websites on our phones.
We love this quote by Ann Handley (Everybody Writes):
“Brevity has more to do with cutting fat, bloat, and things that indulge the writer and don’t respect the reader’s time. Keep it tight.”
She’s right. This isn’t about our joy of writing, but more about what readers need to know. Take for example the about pages from two brewery websites. The first one is copy heavy. The second has less copy but more calls to action, images, and useful icons. Because of these elements, the second website offers a branded experience. It’s obvious from this example that brevity outshines clutter.
We work extremely closely with designers to create brilliant websites for our clients. Together our goal is to make something unique for your business or organization. This helps people remember what they just read. And what inspires original design? Original content.
Originality is incredibly important to our team. We do our due diligence to make sure what we’re writing hasn’t been said by competitors. That means avoiding cliches and other stuff that people mostly ignore. We give it our all to add a unique spin to your content, one that really hones in on a brand’s personality and tone. We want content to be ownable and memorable, so users only think of your brand when they think of the product or service you’re offering.
Here’s an original example for our client, BOLD Growth.
We discovered that many fellow craft cannabis producers were using similar, often serious language. We were seeing buzzwords like “meticulous,” “curated,” and “artisanal.” We understood why they were doing that, but we wanted BOLD to be associated with something more upbeat and interesting. This series of original messaging brings fun and cleverness to BOLD. It balances the craft with much-needed quirk.
This is the fun part for us writers! Here we get the opportunity to bring out a brand’s distinct personality. For instance, we’ve written innovative and trustworthy medical websites and we’ve also written loud and bold content for a motocross branding business.
We don’t make up this personality, at least not if the brand knows who they are. Every brand comes equipped with one. It’s our job to try on that personality, and to describe the brand’s products and services using its unique, knowledgeable voice.
Personality is so important because it gives your brand a recognizable voice. This also allows us to pair images and other visual elements with our content, and ultimately differentiate you from your competitors. It’s also just great to bring humanity to a digital space, something that’s so often overlooked.
Take this list we wrote for Nature’s Circle Swedish dishcloths, for example. We could have chosen a more traditional, text-heavy approach. But we saw an opportunity to bring personality to this content.
Any excuse to inject personality
We also consider microcopy when writing.
In essence, microcopy is the really, really short copy you see kicking around. Think 404 error pages, CTA buttons, and newsletter pop-ups. Personality matters in every single interaction. Good, clever, upfront microcopy compels you to click.
Here are some examples of microcopy that we’ve written, that we happen to love! They guide users through an experience and entice them to follow the suggested action, rather than compel them to leave the website, as pop-ups sometimes do.
The District on Bernard’s newsletter sign-up:
Dose Coffee’s online orders call to action:
Without structure, web content can be confusing and lack authority. It’s tricky to find the right structure because what we think works in one part of the website might not work in another. Yet, the content needs to be consistent throughout. So we write, and rewrite, until it’s right. Here are the factors we look at:
- Case. There’s Sentence case, the type we use the most. It works for most brand voices, it’s easy, it’s conversational, and it looks great. Title Case is more formal and we might use this for a law firm. ALL CAPS is for bold brands who want their message to be loud and clear. It can come off aggressive so it’s best to use it sparingly. lowercase is tough to master, but it works well for brands using a casual, journal-like flow.
- Breaks. Text is easier to grasp when it’s split up into bite sized chunks. That means avoiding long paragraphs and alternating the ways we’re presenting content. Sometimes that’s bullet form, a pullquote, a table, or one of many other tactics we’ve got up our sleeves.
- Variety. So long as there’s a cohesive system throughout the website, there’s no harm in switching things up, from case to paragraph length, to UX and UI elements.
We’ve pulled two formats that illustrate what we’re saying. Both are basic outlines. The one on the left has all the information you might expect: headline, paragraph, headline, paragraph, and so on. It can drag on, and it’s hard to locate yourself in this type of format.
The example on the right follows a modern approach. It uses variation to make the content visually appealing and more likely to be read.
That’s how we treated the content for Revive Skincare’s homepage. We alternated between images, bold wording, lists, and scroll-over effects. This varied, modern approach helped us create a beautiful, unique, and digestible website.
The way we structure content is well-considered, but it’s tailored to the messaging we’re trying to get across. Without proper messaging we can’t accomplish what we’re setting out to do: to sway the user. We’ll always opt for the structure that best respects the type of content.
We love this simple guide for the hero section of a landing page from marketingexamples.com:
1/ Explain the value you provide (title)
2/ Explain how you’ll create it (subtitle)
3/ Let the user visualise it (visual)
4/ Make it believable (social proof)
5/ Make taking the next step easy (CTA)
Our golden rules help us create great websites for our clients, time and time again. Our vast experience has taught us what works and what doesn’t. We work with you to learn exactly what message you’re trying to communicate. Once we have that, we’ll treat it right. That means doing everything in our power to make sure your content is brief, original, personable, and structured.
Now that we’ve gone over what we do—and why we’re your people for it—when can we start writing your new site?