Say it like you mean it: the right tone for websites

Let me teach you what you already know but forget when you sit down at your keyboard. Poke! Picture my face, squatty little deaf woman. “You know this!” And now these reminders will be with you forever.

Very few people are just like you...sometimes

When you write content for your website, flip your thoughts. Don't think, 'What do I want to tell them’. Think, ‘Who is reading this? Why? What do they want from me? Do they care?' Then imagine them as you write.

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Our ‘imagine them’ started one sunny winter afternoon at the Uraidla pub. With a beer and a spot by the fire we imagined Hamish and Helga - aka Ham and Heggs - our stereotypical Social Animals audience. And they're just like us...in some ways. 

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We’re busy...so is Heggs

Helga has 500 wedding photos to edit from the weekend. But she needs a brochure for a wedding expo next month. She doesn't have time for this! So the content on our service pages is about 'what' we do – no fluffy hoo harr about how we started. No updates on Jay's kidney stones (you need to read the blog for that). Just bare bones content.

We are direct and always slash edit. Heggs loves our bare bones because she’s not looking for friends. She just wants to know if we do it, if we are good at it and about how much we charge for it. It’s a business webpage, not Facebook.

Hamish doesn’t like to be treated like an idiot

There's a difference between 'dumbing it down' and writing in Plain English. Sometimes you need to state the obvious. But if you start speaking slowly as you type. And your mouth opens wider with each word. You're being condescending.

All you need to do is edit out the big words, steer clear of formal language and use active, short sentences that get to the point.

Sometimes Heggs is 'just looking thanks' until she's not

In an online shop, customer service shows in your tone.  Helga browses the look book and ponders over the blog but in the shop, imagine her with her credit card out and ready to buy.

Use a blend of instructional and informal friendliness. And don’t waste Heggs time with a mass of flowery words once that card is out. Keep these pages relevant and succinct. But never skimp on detail if the product sits next to an ‘add to cart’ button - eg dimensions, colour options, weight, brand.

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But we're professionals...

A succinct, friendly tone is still the best option if your services are up-market. Use the ‘show me don’t tell me’ principle to storytell. Contractions and short phrases help you write as if you were speaking. But don't use slang and stereotypical 'marketing speak’. Allow quality to show through the tone of your site - the unique words and images, distinct logo and branding choices, and cutting-edge, minimalist website design.

Ham knows a faker when he see one

We thought Hamish went to our ‘About us’ page to find out about our business, our qualifications and if we are credible. But he didnt. He went to Google and social media.

Its a trust thing.

Use your 'About us' page as an introduction to your business. A snippet - a snack about you as a professional. Don't use it as a dumping ground for background information (and don't waffle on) or you'll lose credibility really quickly.

Now remember... poke...and come back next month to­­­­ find out the right tone for social media.