My Teeth, a Goldfish, and Your Web Copy


As I was brushing my teeth this morning, the obsessive nature of my routine became shockingly apparent.  Whenever I brush my teeth, I can’t just brush my teeth.  I MUST do something else at the same time – make my bed with one hand, put things away in the bathroom, pour myself a glass of water, anything really.  I’m sure my mother, a former dentistry professional, would shudder at the thought of my inadequate focus on my dental care.

What the hell does this have to do with anything?  How many people are still reading?  Who gives a crap about my morning habits, right?

It relates to the fact that my attention span, much like that of the average person, is highly fragmented.  Even moreso when you are thinking in terms of the Internet and how people process and manage their online experience.

How many windows do you have open on your screen at one time?  How many social networking sites are you updating at once?

Having so many things operating in your mind and on your screen at one time means that distractions come easy.   This BBC article even goes as far as comparing the average attention span of an avid internet user to that of a goldfish – meaning that concentration is lost after a mere 9 seconds.  And shiny distractions online have increased exponentially in the 7 years since that was published.

This fragmentation is especially important to consider when composing the copy on your website. You need to cater to increasingly impatient customers. Tell them what they want to hear right away, or they will go elsewhere to find it.  You might offer the best solution to their problems, but if you aren’t able to communicate that to them quickly and with the right language, you’re hooped.

Tips on Streamlining Your Web Copy

  • Get rid of fancy language: you’re not selling your customers your advanced vocabulary, so make sure you are describing what your product or service can do for them in the simplest terms possible.
  • Make your copy scannable: help your site visitor find what they are looking for quickly by organizing your content.  Shorten paragraphs, break them up into small chunks, add bullet points, use bold subheadings.
  • Get to the point: focus on the most important benefit your customer can get from your product or service right away, preferably before they have to scroll down.

Man, that took a long time to type with one hand.

About the author: JessicaGrey

I'm a copywriter for web, print, radio and video. Contact me to get content that effectively communicates the benefits of your product or service.

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