Tip 1: Everything is a sale, and every user is a intrinsically a buyer.
As soon as a visitor lands on your Web site, you’re selling that person something—no matter what kind of site it is. Why? Because, from the very first moment, that person is expending his or her valuable time. For a visitor to continue to be willing to spend that time on your site, it has to be worth it.
People buy things because of the benefits that they expect to receive from their purchases. If you’re able to sell people on completing a form or looking up some information on your site, they do what you want them to do because they expect a benefit.
I often see sites where the copy is dry, merely factual, and too practical. While “Click to join” might work, it won’t work as well as “Join now and get instant access.” Whenever possible, try to present the benefit to visitors—whether through copy or images. You’re asking visitors to spend time on your site. Make sure they understand how they will benefit from doing that.
Tip 2: There is only one user.
Ever wondered why Stephen King is so ridiculously successful? Here’s why: He writes for only one person. Every time he writes a book, he just wants his wife to like it. He doesn’t care what the rest of the world will think.
This trick is a little secret from the copywriting world that makes it so much easier to really get into the mind of the user.
The most successful copywriters spend days on research, trying to figure out who the ideal customer is. Then they create a profile of that ideal customer that is as detailed as possible—age, income, type of breakfast, number of unmatched socks, average time behind a PC, number of kids, flavor of toothpaste. They want to know everything.
Only once I’ve defined that customer profile, do I start writing. The result is super-tight copy that is 100% relevant to that ideal customer. Using the same method when designing a user experience or an information architecture gives you the ability to really think like the user. It will make your work much more relevant.
You could argue, “But not all users are the same. My projects are for huge sites with wildly varied user demographics.” That may be so, but there is still only one ideal user: The one who completes the task that you want him to complete. The demographics don’t matter. Whether man or woman, of any age, and any race—the people who match the profile of the ideal user are the ones who stayed on your Web site and did what you needed them to do.
Figure out who that ideal user is, in the most minute detail possible, then design your site’s user experience for that person. Try it, it works!