Spring Clean Your Website Copy (Part 3)

[This article is part of a 4-part series on cleaning up your website. Check out the other articles on freshening up your design, copy and links.]

As time passes and your goals and objectives evolve, so should your website copy. If you've been following our series on spring cleaning your website, including putting together a clean team and purging dead links (click here to see all the articles in the series), you'll be in the perfect place to start focusing on the words and structure that you use to communicate with your audience. While keeping up on your website copy isn't as fluid an activity as is purging your dead links, you still need to make sure your site is connecting to people appropriately and that you're broadcasting the right message. Always watch your analytics to make sure you're receiving the responses you expect. Otherwise, it's time to make some changes. The process of cleaning up your copy should be an abbreviated version of the one you followed when you began to write copy for your website. Here's how you should start from scratch:
  1. Come up with a website architecture, or wireframe, that outlines every page of your site. That way you know what you need to provide copy for.
  2. Scope out the key concepts you want to convey for each page, usually three to five bullets for each page.
  3. Round up your research and source material to support your key concepts.
  4. Identify the appropriate tone for your website - chummy or serious?
Here's the abbreviated version of the process you should follow when you're cleaning up your content:
  1. Review your site structure. Do you have all the pages you need? The link-checking process you went through earlier should have identified gaps and unnecessary pages.
  2. Evaluate your message. Does the copy on those pages still match up with your key concepts? Do those key concepts still reflect your organization?
  3. Incorporate updates. Do you have additional research and source material to boost your copy? Look for new case studies, testimonials or tools, like social media widgets like a Twitter feed or most recent blog entries.
  4. Watch your tone. Does the copy's tone still match your organization's personality? You might find the tone too academic, or too punchy when you first wrote it, and it doesn't accurately represent your mission.
  5. Finally, fix problems. This is possibly the most important step, and it's a great chance to address any communications problems you're having. For instance, your front desk might be fielding calls about directions or e-mailing forms that you can easily transfer to your site. Seek out potential communications bottlenecks, such as poor search engine results, i.e., SEO issues, that you can address with better copy.

Check back tomorrow to pick up the next article in our series on spring cleaning your website. Make sure you don't miss anything by subscribing to the RSS news feed. Not sure what an RSS feed is? Click here.

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