It is vital that during the planning stage of our copywriting for the web, we understand what it is, exactly, we hope to accomplish and those goals need to relate directly to our audiences. We do not have a website just to have a website. We have a website to be of service to our constituencies, current and future.
We recognize that we need to resource our members, welcome and respond to the newcomer, build a subscriber base or mailing list, circulate information, as well as provide technical support. But in order to do this, we must make sure that our web copy can help us to achieve these goals.
We must decide who our typical visitor is and just what it is that they really want. Then find and craft the words that will most effectively meet their needs.
It is also important to remember that without a detailed plan, it will become impossible to stay focused on the people we are serving. Without specifying our audience(s) ahead of time, we are likely to miss out on the very people who are looking for our help and expertise.
Who might be our website audiences?
- Parishes will have active members, inactive members, visitors, seekers, the local neighborhood, community youth, young adults, senior members, etc.
- Arch/dioceses will have parish staffs, parishioners, seekers, national and local organizations, etc.
- Organizations will have members, prospective members, collaborators, donors, etc.
- Religious communities will have members, families and friends of members, prospective members, donors, associates, etc.
Who does our website serve? Can they find a place meant just for them when they get to our site? Or is it so generic, it does not make anyone feel welcome?
Now that we have named our specific audiences, we must develop a strategy for writing our copy. Here are three equally important principles for each group we serve:
- Answer their question directly
- Use a tone that is inviting, positive and helpful.
- Present our ideas clearly and simply.
Finally, organize the website navigation around the interests of the audiences not the structure of the staff. More than once, I have read about a resource that an organization has created or an event they are sponsoring and gone to their website and not been able to find it, because I have no idea which department would have created it. I use the search box if they have one, but it doesn’t come up there either. It does not matter how great a resource or event it is if no one can find it. New and current offerings need to get some home page space.