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Writing For The User

Taking out the “we” word.

Not too long ago, my mother stopped going to the hairdresser she had been using for years. Telling me about it, she said that her decision had nothing to do with the woman’s abilities.

“She just talks about herself all the time,” my mother said. “She never asks me about my own life.”

Just like the customers in that salon, our web users don’t want to hear us talk about ourselves all the time either.

But when we write content for our web pages, we tend to gravitate towards what we know – and that’s our department isn’t it? Our offerings, our services, our classes.

The reader needs to know the facts, so why not deliver, right?

 

Web users are looking for benefits

We have to be careful though, because successful web content is written in a very different style. Web users are looking for benefits, and when someone lands on your page you have just seconds to convince them to stay. You do this by writing content that shows you care about helping them with their questions, their needs, and even with their pain.

 

Speak to your readers directly

Unfortunately, much of our existing web content is focused on us. We may use the word “we” a lot or just mention our department over and over again. Or, if we do talk about our readers, we sometimes throw in impersonal words like: “the student,” and “him, her, and they.”

Here’s a snippet of content I’ve written, and you’ll see what I mean:

“We”-focused content

I’ve highlighted the we-focused and impersonal content in yellow. And there’s a large dose of it, isn’t there? The good news is that content like this can easily be reworked.

Talk to the user just like they were right in front of you

Words like “you,” “your,” and “you’re” are encouraged. So, here’s what you could do to the above web content to make it more compelling:

User-focused content

Focus on the user and not on the department

See? That was easy. With a little practice, your content will flow more freely and feel more natural. And your users just may thank you by staying on your pages longer and engaging with your content.

After all, it was written just for them.

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