Update 1: This post was updated by Darren. Phil has a stream of consciousness that sometimes needs a little red-lining. Enjoy 🙂
Update 2: Actually, this takes a real copywriter. Enter copywriter, April Francis. Her version, below.
Oftentimes, people planning websites think they can write their own copy because they know how to type and (hopefully) spell. That isn’t all that it takes.
37 Signals does a great job of making the case for copy. Below, a quote from Jason Fried’s Rework on the importance of good writers:
If you are trying to decide among a few people to fill a position, hire the best writer … their writing skills will pay off. That’s because being a good writer is about more than writing. Clear writing is a sign of clear thinking. Great writers know how to communicate. They make things easy to understand. …They know what to omit. And those are qualities you want in any candidate.
We live in an age where anyone can post anything online. And from what I’m seeing, that’s why copy is being devalued by most companies and start-ups. But that’s exactly why it should be a priority. Effective writing for the web is clear, concise and strategic and not everyone can deliver that.
Further, copywriting is every bit as important as UI. Copy is UI, as 37 Signals says:
Great interfaces are written. If you think every pixel, every icon, every typeface matters, then you also need to believe every letter matters.
Truly. As Ziad and I were chatting last night, he mentioned a few things in this vein as well, declaring that Doejo is going to start making copy more of a priority, saying, “Copy isn’t selling the product, it is part of the product. In some cases, it’s part of the information architecture.” Actually, copy is the information architecture.
I was prompted to write this post by a flurry of links sent to me by my girlfriend, April Francis (a great copywriter) [Ed. Note: thanks, babe!] and our ongoing debate about the importance of copy. She feels that I do not respect copy enough since I’m “not a big reader.” She’s always suggested Doejo beef up our writing capabilities and says: “Basically, copy is the root of all content and online activity: don’t scrimp on it.”
I have to agree.
Now, on to the links that inspired me to write this and get on board the copy-valuing bandwagon:
1. Writing Microcopy
By Joshua Porter. Found on Twitter by @rjs and retweeted by @jasonfried.
The fastest way to improve your interface is to improve your copy writing:
2. With Clever UI, Readability Hopes to Please Readers Into Paying More
By John Pavlus
The popular bookmarklet from Arc90 relaunches as a paid subscription service that hopes to reboot how content gets read – and paid for – on the web:
3. THE ELEMENTS OF CONTENT STRATEGY
By Erin Kissane, sent to me by @aprilfrancis.
This brief guide explores content strategy’s roots, and quickly and expertly demonstrates not only how it’s done, but how you can do it well:
4. Internet online website by AQUENT
Sent by firstname.lastname@example.org – I love this one!
Copywriting. It’s tough, right? Everyone depends on it, but no one really realizes its value until you have pages and pages of content to fill and no one to do it. Stringing words into sentences is just the beginning; eventually you have to string those sentences into whole paragraphs, and that takes real skills, spelling not the least of them.