19 replies [Last post]
Verschwindende
Verschwindende's picture
Offline
Guru
Last seen: 1 day 15 hours ago
Timezone: GMT-4
Joined: 2009-10-09
Posts: 2051
Points: 2283

Does anyone have any suggestion for coming up with good copy (relevant content) for a customer's site. More often than not when I ask a client what they want on their site they say, "you're the web guy, you handle it". Under normal circumstances I'd pass it off to a competent copy writer but the local market just won't support me hiring out at the moment.

What do you suggest?

Tags:
Hugo
Hugo's picture
Offline
Moderator
London
Last seen: 7 years 30 weeks ago
London
Joined: 2004-06-06
Posts: 15668
Points: 2806

No this is the clients job!

No this is the clients job! Clients who say stuff like "you're the web developer, you sort it out" are the worst kind as they demonstrate not one jot of any understanding of the process they have engaged in and do not really know what they need a web site for also it could be said to be the developers fault for not thoroughly stating what their role consists of.

I'm not a copy writer (Yes some of you are nodding in agreement) I don't write stuff for sites that is the job of the client they should know what they want their site to say, I can however guide clients that are not sure in quite a detailed manner suggesting what pages there should be and what sort of content given their industry category they should be looking at having but I still will not write this, either they do or it's farmed out to someone that can and charged for.

Sorry I realise that's not a lot of help but really you have three choices:

Client writes it.
Third party copy writers.
You write it.

Can't really advice how you write it, perhaps your written skills are good? go for it then but ensure you make it clear to the client that it's an extra charge.

Out of interest what does the content need to cover.

Perhaps you should post the site for us and let us all chip in with content ideas?

Before you make your first post it is vital that you READ THE POSTING GUIDELINES!
----------------------------------------------------------------
Please post ALL your code - both CSS & HTML - in [code] tags
Please validate and ensure you have included a full Doctype before posting.
Why validate? Read Me

purewebdesigner
purewebdesigner's picture
Offline
Enthusiast
Washington DC
Last seen: 3 years 37 weeks ago
Washington DC
Timezone: GMT-5
Joined: 2007-04-22
Posts: 234
Points: 95

+1 for 'No this is the

+1 for 'No this is the clients job!'

They know what they want to sell or market better than you, least they should. In cases where they don't have good copy writing skills but have their message down. I have resorted to hiring copy writers too.

I can write code all day long, but not copy. Luckily I have a wonderful girlfriend who has a masters in english to look over my personal projects Smile

Go with the pro - I'd recommend they hire a copy writer, I wouldn't want a dentist working on my plumbing.

CSSExpression EngineHTMLWordpressCoffee

Personal Website: curtisscott.com
Follow Me on Twitter: twitter.com/curtisscott_com

Verschwindende
Verschwindende's picture
Offline
Guru
Last seen: 1 day 15 hours ago
Timezone: GMT-4
Joined: 2009-10-09
Posts: 2051
Points: 2283

Oh, trust me, I agree with

Oh, trust me, I agree with you 100%. I just really need the work. It is for the pizza shop that I posted in the site check. The owner is a really good friend so I don't mind the extra work and he already paid me in full for the site so I have no complaints. I'm positive that he gave me the work because he knew I needed some cash and not because he needed a web site. I appreciate that.

http://mrpizzanewcastle.com

If you have any suggestions, let 'em fly.

Hugo
Hugo's picture
Offline
Moderator
London
Last seen: 7 years 30 weeks ago
London
Joined: 2004-06-06
Posts: 15668
Points: 2806

That's fair enough, given the

That's fair enough, given the circs you write in conjunction with client and it doesn't need a huge amount of copy.

The home page briefly introduces the business - the owners, ethos, what's offered, The USP? i.e freshness, real pizza oven? Emphasize speedy delivery, free? etc - not rambling text; concise, to the point, short sharp paragraphs, bullet point style.

Make the ordering phone number nice and clear on that menu page make it LARGE and just below the 'Current Menu' heading or similar position?

Before you make your first post it is vital that you READ THE POSTING GUIDELINES!
----------------------------------------------------------------
Please post ALL your code - both CSS & HTML - in [code] tags
Please validate and ensure you have included a full Doctype before posting.
Why validate? Read Me

Verschwindende
Verschwindende's picture
Offline
Guru
Last seen: 1 day 15 hours ago
Timezone: GMT-4
Joined: 2009-10-09
Posts: 2051
Points: 2283

I tossed up some blather.

I tossed up some blather. Suggestions for improvement welcome. Smile

Hugo
Hugo's picture
Offline
Moderator
London
Last seen: 7 years 30 weeks ago
London
Joined: 2004-06-06
Posts: 15668
Points: 2806

That's a great start. I would

That's a great start.

I would suggest trying to break ip the paragraphs. Where you have 'mouth watering'perhaps seperate the food items, move themaround each to a line, mix the fonts up, vary the size slightly, pad the line so the items are not all under the same vertical line.

There mote I ca n think off but struggling to type for long as I'm on my iPod touch but it is so cool Smile

Before you make your first post it is vital that you READ THE POSTING GUIDELINES!
----------------------------------------------------------------
Please post ALL your code - both CSS & HTML - in [code] tags
Please validate and ensure you have included a full Doctype before posting.
Why validate? Read Me

Verschwindende
Verschwindende's picture
Offline
Guru
Last seen: 1 day 15 hours ago
Timezone: GMT-4
Joined: 2009-10-09
Posts: 2051
Points: 2283

Hugo wrote: That's a great

Hugo wrote:

That's a great start.

I would suggest trying to break ip the paragraphs. Where you have 'mouth watering'perhaps seperate the food items, move themaround each to a line, mix the fonts up, vary the size slightly, pad the line so the items are not all under the same vertical line.

There mote I ca n think off but struggling to type for long as I'm on my iPod touch but it is so cool Smile

Ok, that's the last time I ask you about writing copy. Tongue Autocomplete (or whatever they call it) is a hoot, ain't it?

Verschwindende
Verschwindende's picture
Offline
Guru
Last seen: 1 day 15 hours ago
Timezone: GMT-4
Joined: 2009-10-09
Posts: 2051
Points: 2283

Hugo wrote: That's a great

Hugo wrote:

That's a great start.

I would suggest trying to break ip the paragraphs. Where you have 'mouth watering'perhaps seperate the food items, move themaround each to a line, mix the fonts up, vary the size slightly, pad the line so the items are not all under the same vertical line.

There mote I ca n think off but struggling to type for long as I'm on my iPod touch but it is so cool Smile

Ok, that's the last time I ask you about writing copy. Tongue Autocomplete (or whatever they call it) is a hoot, ain't it?

Smee
Smee's picture
Offline
Elder
Adelaide, Oz
Last seen: 5 years 7 weeks ago
Adelaide, Oz
Timezone: GMT+9.5
Joined: 2007-06-10
Posts: 1596
Points: 340

I'm struggling with copy for

I'm struggling with copy for my own site at the moment so I know the pain. Here are two good resources I've found that might help others.

Men With Pens is actually run by a woman copywriter and web designer and there are a lot of helpful articles in the archives about writing for the web. Also of interest to us is the Drive-by-Shooting-Sundays (under Better Design) which are website critiques.

Another good source of writing tips is Copyblogger. While this one is for bloggers it nonetheless also has good articles on writing. This link happens to be a page I had open Smile

Mods and gurus – THANK YOU!
For your time, knowledge and experience so willingly and generously given.
Please come back tomorrow and sort us all out again Smile

gary.turner
gary.turner's picture
Offline
Moderator
Dallas
Last seen: 1 year 22 weeks ago
Dallas
Timezone: GMT-6
Joined: 2004-06-25
Posts: 9776
Points: 3858

As Hugo said, short, direct,

As Hugo said, short, direct, active statements. No passive verbs. Using your write-up,

<p><b>Mr Pizza</b> means <em>authentic</em> New York style
pizza (<i>Pizza Napoletana</i>).</p>
 
<ul>
  <li>Watch us hand toss your pizza</li>
 
  <li>You choose the fresh toppings</li>
 
  <li>By the slice, or</li>
 
  <li>By the pie</li>
</ul>
 
<p>Dine in or drive through.  For free delivery, call
(724)&nbsp;658-6603.</p>
 
<p>For a change of pace:</p>
 
<ul> 
  <li>Mouth watering, thick Sicilian pizza (<i>sfincione</i>)</li>
 
  <li>Delicious submarine sandwiches</li>
 
  <li>Tasty hot sandwiches</li>
 
  <li>Homemade soups and salads</li>
</ul>
 
<p>Order out for pick-up or delivery at (724)&nbsp;658-6603, or dine
in at the corner of East Washington Street and Lathrop Street.

Slightly off-topic, Why does the menu page have pizzas at the bottom? If it's a pizza parlor, pizzas belong at the top of the menu. Stress your client's strength.

cheers,

gary

If your web page is as clever as you can make it, it's probably too clever for you to debug or maintain.

Verschwindende
Verschwindende's picture
Offline
Guru
Last seen: 1 day 15 hours ago
Timezone: GMT-4
Joined: 2009-10-09
Posts: 2051
Points: 2283

Wow, thanks to all.

Wow, thanks to all. Especially Gary for the extra work!

gary.turner wrote:

Slightly off-topic, Why does the menu page have pizzas at the bottom? If it's a pizza parlor, pizzas belong at the top of the menu. Stress your client's strength.

It exactly mimics their physical menu. I don't know the reason or if there is one. I was considering the same thing though as I was making the menu. I'll have to ask but I know he'll just say "whatever, do what you want".

Verschwindende
Verschwindende's picture
Offline
Guru
Last seen: 1 day 15 hours ago
Timezone: GMT-4
Joined: 2009-10-09
Posts: 2051
Points: 2283

I'm trying out Gary's idea

I'm trying out Gary's idea now. I'm not sure how I feel about the unordered lists. I'm going to leave it up and have a look at it with fresh eyes in the morning.

Thanks a bunch, fellers. Smile

gary.turner
gary.turner's picture
Offline
Moderator
Dallas
Last seen: 1 year 22 weeks ago
Dallas
Timezone: GMT-6
Joined: 2004-06-25
Posts: 9776
Points: 3858

Sales points stand out

Wow! That looks good. The sales points stand out. (I'm not saying the copy is perfect, but you get the idea.) Note the active verbs, watch, choose. See the Pavlovian response kick in with Mouth watering thick crust, Delicious (OK, this needs work; it's a null value), Tasty hot (hot's OK, tasty is a null value), Homemade (also needs work).

In the first call to action, I'd like to see the restaurant's street address.

cheers,

gary

If your web page is as clever as you can make it, it's probably too clever for you to debug or maintain.

Hugo
Hugo's picture
Offline
Moderator
London
Last seen: 7 years 30 weeks ago
London
Joined: 2004-06-06
Posts: 15668
Points: 2806

Gary coded what I was

Gary coded what I was thinking and that looks far better it's punchier, to the point; I would make a few minor tweaks:

Lose the bullet points, not needed

Increase the font size, this isn't body copy, it's not a book or article copy, setting at 1.2em looked better.

Increased margin between the first line and the blackbox header.

<li>You choose the fresh toppings</li>

<li>Your choice of fresh toppings</li>

Thanks I will, are there places that choose for you?

  <li>By the slice, or</li>
 
  <li>By the pie</li>

Not sure about this broken into two LI items? What about something along lines of "Sold by the slice or the pie"

<p>Dine in or drive through.  For free delivery, call
(724)&nbsp;658-6603.</p>

<p>Dine in, Drive through or have it delivered!</p>
<p>For free delivery  call...</p>

This next suggestions may be awful? but this is essentially a 'flyer' think magazine layout styling. Yes as fond as we are of trotting out that phrase "The web is not print" in some cases it is!

Try a change of font for the li items, add some dynamics to the text, for instance add increasing amount of left padding to each li item creating the effect of staggered lines. Magazines are often a great source of inspiration for layout as they tend to play with text alignment, fonts, and the white space available to great effect and often break rules producing interesting visual layouts.

Lastly really not sure I like the black box header, actually not not sure, sure. Play around with it don't think you need the box or background, but perhaps a embedded font might look good here?

Before you make your first post it is vital that you READ THE POSTING GUIDELINES!
----------------------------------------------------------------
Please post ALL your code - both CSS & HTML - in [code] tags
Please validate and ensure you have included a full Doctype before posting.
Why validate? Read Me

Verschwindende
Verschwindende's picture
Offline
Guru
Last seen: 1 day 15 hours ago
Timezone: GMT-4
Joined: 2009-10-09
Posts: 2051
Points: 2283

Refresh and see if that's any

Refresh and see if that's any better. http://mrpizzanewcastle.com/

Thank you all for your excellent tips.

Hugo
Hugo's picture
Offline
Moderator
London
Last seen: 7 years 30 weeks ago
London
Joined: 2004-06-06
Posts: 15668
Points: 2806

Headers much better. Still

Headers much better.

Still not sure why you want the bullets?

Font increase definitely better

Still have the "By the slice..." split over two LI elements ?

So Johnny come lately Gary sweeps in nicks my ideas wraps them in a ul list and grabs best reply; huh! Crazy

Before you make your first post it is vital that you READ THE POSTING GUIDELINES!
----------------------------------------------------------------
Please post ALL your code - both CSS & HTML - in [code] tags
Please validate and ensure you have included a full Doctype before posting.
Why validate? Read Me

Verschwindende
Verschwindende's picture
Offline
Guru
Last seen: 1 day 15 hours ago
Timezone: GMT-4
Joined: 2009-10-09
Posts: 2051
Points: 2283

Hugo wrote:So Johnny come

Hugo wrote:

So Johnny come lately Gary sweeps in nicks my ideas wraps them in a ul list and grabs best reply; huh! Crazy

Big smile It happened to me just a few days ago, too. Tongue

Hugo wrote:

Still not sure why you want the bullets?

Hey, what can I say? I like bullets. Especially, cheesy bullets.

Hugo
Hugo's picture
Offline
Moderator
London
Last seen: 7 years 30 weeks ago
London
Joined: 2004-06-06
Posts: 15668
Points: 2806

Then bullets you shall have,

Then bullets you shall have, a whole clip load discharged rapidly Stare

He can have his best reply, doesn't bother me, I'm fine about it, couldn't care less, not phased at all.

Before you make your first post it is vital that you READ THE POSTING GUIDELINES!
----------------------------------------------------------------
Please post ALL your code - both CSS & HTML - in [code] tags
Please validate and ensure you have included a full Doctype before posting.
Why validate? Read Me

Smee
Smee's picture
Offline
Elder
Adelaide, Oz
Last seen: 5 years 7 weeks ago
Adelaide, Oz
Timezone: GMT+9.5
Joined: 2007-06-10
Posts: 1596
Points: 340

Looking much better I'd move

Looking much better Smile

I'd move Menu up next to Home on the top menu - that was one of the first things that actually struck me when I looked a couple of days ago.

The Google map address says 1204 E Washington Street yet that isn't anywhere except the Contact page. I think it's good to tell them (in the body) it's on the corner of Lathrop but maybe put it under the Header so all the access information is up front?

Mods and gurus – THANK YOU!
For your time, knowledge and experience so willingly and generously given.
Please come back tomorrow and sort us all out again Smile