Read me!

This is the first thing you want people to do so you can connect them to your message. Whether it’s a brochure, flyer, website, blog, article or email the first thing they see must make them curious or interested enough to pursue things further.

  • On a brochure it’s the front page that entices you to look inside.
  • On a flyer it’s either on the front to get you to unfold it or the headline at the top that makes you want to read further down
  • On an email it has to be strong enough to make you bother to open it
  • On a web page (any web page, not just the home page) it needs to tell you enough to draw you on and find out more
  • On an article or blog it’s the headline that intrigues, engages and implies that there is something interesting, useful or even entertaining in the main body of the article or post.
  • So, what makes a good headline?

    That’s hard to answer, as every subject creates its own headlines to some extent. However, there are some good practice tips that might help:

    1. It needs to be reader focused – so not ‘We do’, but ‘You can have’
    2. It needs to be long enough to be compelling and short enough to retain attention. It depends on the type of document as to what is too long – but not several lines, particularly not on a website. The sales copy experts say up to 17 words; I’d suggest aiming for less.
    3. It needs to have energy. That means active words. It should read well and not be hard to say (even reading silently can tie you in knots sometimes!); stumbling over the words reduces their effectiveness.
    4. It needs to have something in it that connects with the reader in some way. It might answer a question, it might ask a question that relates to what they are looking for, it might say something challenging or controversial, it might say something that needs explanation and intrigues the reader to find out more. It might also say something that tempts or offers the reader something they want.

    A good headline is a catalyst to the reader taking action.
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    Writing headlines that get attention

    Headlines are a focus for the reader’s attention so they need to be big and compelling, it’s no good presenting them in any font size less than 18 point or they’re likely to get overlooked.

    When people arrive on your page you need to get their attention quickly, so nothing should get in the way of them connecting with your headline. Page titles (About us, Services) are not headlines, but often overshadow the main message. Don’t waste prime real estate on page titles, your web designer should be smart enough to make the menu show the page you’re on!

    The best headlines focus on why people buy YOUR business. If you’re not sure ask your customers why they use your services or products and apply that information to your headlines – other people will want the same things.

    Avoid using the word ‘WE’ – your visitor is not interested in you or what you do; they want to know what they get. The best way to get engagement is to talk about your visitor and their challenges.

    The best headlines answer the question ‘will this website tell me what I want to know?’ Use your headline to tell your reader what they will get if they read on.

    To improve the ease of reading headlines should be in sentence case NOT caps and NOT with a cap for each word that stops readers at each word.

    Don’t panic if your headline is a bit longer than the ‘norm’. they can be long if they are also compelling; experts say up to 17 words! I suggest less, but say what you need to.
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    Sign up and get your free reports, tips and information that will help you get your message across in writing.

    You can also find us at Lesleywriter or call us on +44 (0) 1245 473296

    Have you optimised your website for lazy users?

    Usability is about how easy your site is for people to get around, find what they want, get from a to b with the least effort.

    Typical web users are lazy – and impatient! That means you and me too. I’m not trying to be insulting, but think about it:

    When you’re waiting for a website to download, how many seconds is it before you start tapping your fingers in impatience and sighing a lot? What’s your opinion of that website’s usability?

    When you’re faced with a website that you don’t get to work the first time you try something, how much effort are you prepared to put in to work out how the website owner wants you to behave? Do you think they’ve considered usability?

    No, I didn’t think so!

    So, what about your own website – how does it measure up for usability?

    How much effort do people have to put into understand what the website will deliver?

    How fast do they get your message?

    Is the headline right where they’re looking?

    Is the menu where they expect it to be?

    Is the column width comfortable for reading?

    Are the paragraphs short and easy to read?

    Does it deliver the message that they want (not the one you think they should have)?

    When you ask them to take action, how easy do you make it for them to do so? E.g. is the phone number right next to the ‘call us’ instruction? Is the explore our services now a link or do they have to scroll back up to the menu?

    Usability affects every aspect of a website from the look, to the position, to the message and information on offer. Check yours out; poor usability sends your visitors running for an easier to use website – and they don’t come back!
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    You can also find us at Lesleywriter or call us on +44 (0) 1245 473296

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