Creating Quality Content - Part 2: Crafting the Text
Quality Content Doesn’t Just Happen - Here’s How We Do It
This post is the second in a series about how to write quality content. In Part 1: Content Research and Planning, we shared tips about what you can do before writing to help your work stand out.
Today we’re going to focus on writing the core of your text. We'll share 6 strategies for creating engaging content that’s valuable to your readers.
Writing for today’s audience can sometimes feel like striking a balance on a rigged scale—it’s not easy to write clear and friendly text while also keeping it concise. (After all, most readers have a 15-second attention span.)
At Wix, I’ve learned that the key to great text is this: bring readers value with every word you write and structure your content so it’s easy to read.
Here are the strategies we use to ensure our text is always top-notch:
Strategy #1: Think like a user
Whether you’re a UX writer, a blogger or even an author writing your memoir, keep your focus on your audience. Think about why they’re they interested in your text, what they want to achieve and how you can help them get it.
Author June Casagrande sums this up perfectly in her book, It Was the Best of Sentences, It Was the Worst of Sentences. She says: “Your writing is not about you. It’s about the Reader. Even when it’s quite literally about you—in memoirs, personal essays, first-person accounts—it’s not really about you.”
Let readers know what to expect from the beginning
Invest time in writing a strong headline (this title generator can prove helpful, especially for bloggers), subtitle and opening paragraph that clearly explain what your content is about. Be honest— no over-promising and under-delivering, no clickbait, etc. Most people decide whether to keep reading an article in the first few sentences, so get to the, “What’s in it for me?” quickly.
Refer to your research so that your content is relatable
Here’s where you go back to the research you did about your audience. (Check out strategy #2 in Part 1: Content Research and Planning.) - Add relevant examples. Use images, GIFs and scenarios that speak to your audience. - Find the right words. As you write, make sure you’re talking to users in their language. What kind of words and terminology do your readers use? Take note and use these in your writing. At Wix, we start by reading user tickets and then speak with product support to get their insight. You can also do keyword research using a tool like Google Trends to help you compare terms and see which ones are most commonly used. Here’s an example of how I put this into practice: My team is working on a new product and we were debating what to call the navigation titles in the site menu (currently we call them “tabs”). When I reviewed customer feedback, I saw that users tend to refer to them as “menu items.” As a result, we decided to change “tabs” to “menu items” across our product.
Pro tip: If possible, A/B test your content so that you can see what works. You may be surprised at what wins!
Have an imaginary dialogue with users
As you write, keep a running list of what your users want to know. You can anticipate these questions by referring back to your research. Then, make sure your content answers them. For example, when I’m writing a label for settings in my product, I always think, “What would a user ask me about this setting or feature?” I use that as a starting point to write a tooltip. A tooltip is a box with more info that appears when users hover over an information icon:
As I write the tooltip, I continue my “dialogue.” Would a user likely have more questions after reading this? If yes, I add in any crucial information or link to an article with more details.
Strategy #2: Keep it simple
Break down complex tasks or concepts into simple steps. If readers feel overwhelmed and think they won’t understand a topic, you lose them. Here are a few pointers:
Remove jargon. This is one of our core writing values at Wix. We strive to write text that is tech-savvy but not technical.
Reread your content and get second opinions. Could someone misunderstand what you wrote?
Write short sentences.
Get straight to the point. You don’t want people to have to reread any sentence more than once to understand it. There are online readability tools that can check your text.
Here’s an example of how we rewrote text to make it easier to understand. In the “Before,” we over-explained anchors and the feature sounded complicated. In the “After,” we just told users how to add an anchor to a page.
Strategy #3: Show, don’t tell
Give users the feeling that you’re holding their hand and guiding them as they read your content. Add tips and examples to clarify your main points.
Take a look at this tooltip about setting font size. We don’t just tell users to customize the font; we guide them with a recommendation.
Strategy #4: Stay away from cliches
Avoid stale and overused phrases in your writing. For example, it seems like every health article I’ve read recently uses the term “wreak havoc,” e.g., “Sugar wreaks havoc on your digestion.” When I see this, my eyes roll. The term has become so overused that it reads like lazy writing.
Here are a few examples of overly-used phrases you may want to avoid:
At the end of the day
Bang for your buck
Get the ball rolling
Hit the ground running
Take it to the next level (This is a term we’ve banned across Wix content, because it’s a meaningless phrase.)
Pro tip: Google “overused words and phrases” and you’ll find lists of terms worth avoiding. Don’t take these lists too seriously, but rather make a mental note not to overuse these phrases.
Strategy #5: Make it scannable
It pains me to say this, but it’s true: users aren’t going to read each and every one of those words you spent hours polishing. They’re trying to get the gist of the content, which means they’re going to skim. So make sure your content helps them do just that. Use:
Short sentences and paragraphs
Headings, subtitles and visuals to break up text
Pull quotes (These are key quotes or phrases that highlight your main points.)
Pro tip: Mix up your visuals. Add videos, GIFs, memes, images, etc. These let readers rest as they read your content.
Here’s how I wrote text on a popup to make it scannable:
I wanted to make sure the most important information appeared in the header and CTA (call to action) buttons. That way, even if users don’t read all the text in between, they’ll still get the idea.
In this example, you get the main idea just by reading the header and CTA:
Get more tips on how to write CTAs.
Strategy #6: Write for users, not for Google (even if you care about SEO)
With all the emphasis on SEO and ranking, remember that your aim should be to optimize for users, not Google. Google’s search algorithm is getting smarter all the time and a lot of the tricks people use to boost SEO don’t work like they used to.
This doesn’t mean you should ignore standard best practices for SEO. In fact, many tips for writing quality content, like adding subtitles and creating the right hierarchy, will also help search engines understand your content. You always want to add alt text and the right meta tags to help search engines understand your content. But when you start manipulating your text for the sole purpose of ranking higher—by doing things like keyword stuffing—Google knows, and your ranking goes down.
The solution is to write for readers. That’s what can actually help your content get shared and read. Over time, this will help you score a higher spot in search results.
Bottom line: Don’t try to outsmart Google.
Have more tips about how to engage users? Share it in the comments below.
You’ve just read Part 2: Crafting the Right Text. Next up: Editing, Publishing & Beyond. We’re going to share strategies for editing, publishing and optimizing content once it’s live.
Read the other two posts in the series:
Part 1: Content Research & Planning
Part 3: Editing, Publishing & Beyond
By Lana Raykin, UX Writer at Wix