About the Blog

Its about anything and everything. I, Steven Hancock started this blog for a variety of reasons. I want to start documenting my life and sharing that with others, whether that's family, friends, strangers or my future self. I also want to start sharing my experiences with others in hopes that others can learn from me. Perhaps I can help someone set up an Ubuntu server, write a Django Web Application, or setup a Phonegap Mobile App.

That's it. I'm hear to share. Nothing more, nothing less. I will be covering a wide variety of topics so feel free to browse for the blog entries that interest you most.

Designing Your Personal Website [Part 4-A] - Copywriting

January 27, 2015

The fourth installment of my series of blog posts on Designing Your Personal Website may be the most important (maybe that's why it has taken me almost a year to produce). The copy of your site will be what you base your design on, what attracts visitors to your site, as well as influence visitors to the website goals. It is not overly hard to write adequate copy, all you have to do is have a rough idea of what the purpose of your site is and do some proofreading. However, in order to write strong copy, you have to do a lot more.

Persona

Every personal website should have personality. You will want to show the aspects of personality that you want others to perceive in you. These characteristics will be the foundation for your website’s persona. To get a proper grasp on words and phrases that you can use while creating the content on your site create a Persona Cloud. Your persona cloud will be a collage of words and phrases that describe traits of the personality of your site. Create your own, print it off and hang it next to your computer while you develop the content for your site.

Goals

Your goals have to be supported by your content. If the main goal of your site is for visitors to buy your book, you better have persuasive content that persuades visitors to do so. Most websites are going to have one major goal that asks users to complete some action. These websites will have to utilize a call to action to funnel users through the action process.

Every call to action should have:

  • Supporting content that communicates value
  • Demonstrate urgency
  • Convey ease of action
  • Provide specificity

A well planned call to action can be the difference between reaching your goals or falling short.

Structure

What are the sections of your content? You will probably have a header, footer, navigation, and some sort of main content or article, but what are your other sections? Maybe you have advertisements, maybe each article will have a summary, or maybe a portfolio. In order to develop the structure of your content you will have to have planned out the type of information that you want to share on your site, from that a common structure should flow.

Structure is important to maintain usability throughout your site, the structure needs to maintain a level of consistency. In addition, in order to design the site, all of the content components will be needed before hand. How can a designer develop a website without knowing the type of information that is suppose to go in it?

Words Matter

In the end it is all about the words that are on the page. Your headings, subtitles, paragraphs, bullets, sentences, and phrases are what website visitors are going to notice. Follow the guidelines that you have already developed in the previous sections (Persona, Goals, and Structure) while writing your content. The guidelines will help each page and each section flow into each other.

Most people are looking to optimize their SEO when writing content. To produce highly effective keywords and phrases do some research using Google AdWords Keyword Planner. With the planner you can:

  • Search for commonly used key words
  • See how different keywords rank
  • Compare the amount of competition between search terms

All of these you can narrow by location if your site will be focused on attracting people from a specific locale. Try to pick phrases that have low competition but high search volume. There is no need to fight the big players before you even get started, create your niche and work up from there.

Most importantly you will want to write for your users. Don’t cram your site full of SEO terms. Users know when you are trying to game SEO. Keep your content as simple as possible and geared towards your visitors. Being overly complicate will only confuse users. Use proper grammar, shorter sentences, and don’t reach for the thesaurus just to make yourself sound smarter. Write with your audience’s best interests in mind and you will produce valuable content.

For the second half of this post (Part 4-B) I'll share my content and some of my thoughts behind it.