Is Your Website Overweight? Keep it Short and Centered on Benefits

Is your website overweight?

Are you writing too much on your website pages?

Have you crossed the fine line between being informative and losing your reader’s attention entirely?

Three Suggestions:

1. What I like to call “the 50% test”

Take a Web page of text that has 300-600 words (or more) and cut it in 1/2. The chances of your reader absorbing what you want them to absorb will increase substantially!

Added-value benefit: Your writing communication skills will improve 100%.

2. Short Sentences (*15 Words or Less)

A supervisor once gave me a mission: write 15 words or less. It was a big wake-up call. At the time, I was writing marketing copy for a B2B software product. I sometimes wrote long sentences with long-winded explanations assuming it would be ok for “industry” insiders.

My perception was that it might make the company sound smarter or more authoritative. Maybe, but when you’re marketing (to anyone), long-winded sentences disrupt your main goal: to inspire a new audience to TRY or BUY.

The risk of long-winded text is causing BOREDOM or CONFUSION. Once this happens, your reader’s attention span flies the coop, and you also risk an overall negative impression of the company. Fat paragraphs can cause the same problems.

I had 2 realizations:

a. When I stayed to 15 words or less, my writing effectiveness improved. The communication of my ideas became much clearer and more efficient.

b. Enterprise executives and managers are people too. Like consumers, they also do not have much patience. They want to read about a valuable solution to their problems. They do NOT want to feel like they’re doing research in a library!

Lesson: If your solution or product is simple, why can’t your description also be simple?

* There are exceptions to the 15 words or less rule.

3. Do NOT Confuse Benefit with Feature. I see this happen way too often.

  • Benefits – how my life will improve.
  • Features – the tools that will help me get there.

You came up with a really cool idea. You invested years in R&D. You hired a crack team of product development experts. Now you have a laundry list of incredible features you want everyone to know about. That’s great! Just be careful where you put it.

Will potential customers want to read about all of these features? They might. Just not all on a Web page and not all at once. Too much too soon.

Potential customers look for benefits. What will I get out of this solution? How will this product improve my life? If you list too many features without focusing enough on benefits, you’ve lost your reader. They may simply conclude that they don’t need all of this stuff and surf  to a different beach.

How do you know exactly which features they need? You probably don’t. Just do not confuse features with benefits.

You DO know how your product can benefit someone. If you didn’t, you would never have invented it! Help your reader relate. How did you feel when you had a problem? Does your website inspire them as much as you were inspired in the beginning?

Think of writing fewer words as losing 10 or 15 kilos you really didn’t need. Some websites I’ve seen should try losing 50-100 kilos! If I’m speaking to you, you may need to hire a personal trainer.

Imagine the benefits! 😉


About Jacob Nehman

Jacob Nehman is an experienced messaging consultant and marketing copywriter in the startup industry. He has developed content for numerous B2B and B2C brands selling a wide variety of products and solutions for mobile and Web. He has also consulted startups on user experience and product development. Jacob is originally from Austin, Texas and currently resides in Tel Aviv.
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