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Why Web Copywriting is a Bit Like Plastering

…. it looks easy, but try it yourself and you’ll struggle to get a perfect finish.

You’re looking at your website and thinking …it’s time it had a makeover, so you happily hire a web designer to do the design and development work for your new site. You quickly realise that web design work is expensive so you try and reduce the project cost by writing the copy for the new website yourself.

Does this sound like you? Happy to spend lots of money on web design because you can’t do it yourself, but keen to write the copy because that’s the easy part, right?

Wrong!

The uncomfortable truth is that too many business websites fail to meet the basic expectations of their customers and it’s often poor writing that’s to blame. If the information on a website is poorly written, badly organised or just hard to find this is a sure-fire way to drive potential customers away.

UK Localisation: What Is It and Who Needs It?

UK localisation is not some Government policy intended to ensure that only local people get jobs. It’s actually the process whereby products, services, software, websites and text documents are adapted to the language, culture and “look-and-feel” of a particular country, in this case the UK.

When localising any product or service for the UK, translation alone tends not to be enough – the ultimate objective of localisation is to make sure that the product or service appears to have been developed locally, by local people for local people.

As well as ensuring that the spelling, grammar and punctuation are suitably tailored it’s essential that local idioms and linguistic conventions are used. It’s often necessary to make subtle changes to take account of things like local social, cultural, racial and religious sensitivities, gender roles, geography, topography, date/time formats and national holidays.

After the translation work has been done, successful UK localisation requires the additional services of people with these two key skills:

  • mother-tongue language skills
  • expertise in local cultural sensitivities

For any business which wants to succeed in the UK market with its product or service it’s important to get it localised properly. When, for example, UK consumers see Spanglish, Franglish, Chinglish or Japlish in UK marketing content they quickly get the impression that the company isn’t really thinking very much about its target customers here.

If localisation is overlooked, or just poorly done, the business runs the risk of reputational damage and possible damage to its brand, as well as the financial implications of poor sales. Equally, when localisation is done skilfully and thoroughly the benefits can be significant.

Bishopsgate Copywriting have the UK localisation skills that non-UK businesses require.

If you need to get your website, product manual or any other type of text document localised for the UK market please contact us today for a quote.

Steve Shaw, Bishopsgate Copywriting

Bishopsgate Copywriting are based in Sevenoaks, England and specialise in financial and business copywriting and editing for websites and print media.

New Website? Don’t Forget That The Words Are Important Too

I’m a copywriter. When I’m not writing I do a fair amount of networking, both through Twitter and Facebook, and also the old-fashioned way where you go out and chat face-to-face with people over a glass of wine or a cup of coffee. In the local area there are networking events of one kind or another happening almost every day.

One thing I’ve noticed is the sheer number of people who are doing website design, either as their mainstream business, or as a sideline to earn some extra cash. This is great – with so many people in this sector, as well as the wide array of website design packages available, people can now get a new website built and hosted for a very reasonable price.

There seems to be a downside to this era of cheap websites though. Nearly everybody thinks that they can write good web copy and so every day thousands of new websites go live which have been put together by a web-designer and the client. I see lots of posts on Twitter which say “please have a look at my new website,”, so I do…and I see this….

……lots of websites with great graphics, dazzling imagery and fancy things happening when you click on a tab, but let down by poor quality copy which ensures the site will never be found in Google searches. In all the excitement of launching a new website it seems that design is king and the words don’t matter so much.

I think there is a solution though. Instead of the two party relationship between client and web designer, overall website quality would improve dramatically if a third party was brought into the relationship – a copywriter.

It’s not a state secret that great web designers generally don’t make great copywriters (any more than a great carpenter makes a great electrician) and many clients choose to provide their own copy in order to bring down costs. Not involving a copywriter when you’re working on a new website really can be a false economy though unless the client happens to be among the fairly small group of people who are highly skilled at writing web copy.

Of course I would say these things as a copywriter, wouldn’t I? Well yes, but if you’re paying several hundred pounds for a new website just stop and think about what you’re doing for a moment – surely it’s just plain common sense to devote as much time and effort on ensuring that you have quality SEO-optimised web copy as you would on achieving great site design. After all, when you have a new website you want potential customers to find it, and once they’re on it you want this to be a positive experience for them.

Steve Shaw, Bishopsgate Copywriting

Bishopsgate Copywriting are based in Sevenoaks, England and specialise in financial and business copywriting and copyediting for websites and print media.

 

UK English and US English are different

American English v British English

I was recently asked by a client to review about 50 pages of content on their U.S. website and edit this so that it was suitable for a British audience.

I thought that this would be a fairly straightforward task involving making all the obvious spelling changes…making sure that words like “color” and “flavor”  had a “u” in them, changing “center” to centre, “toward” to towards, “program” to programme and amending words like “organization” and “specialize” to the UK spelling.

The work actually turned out to be rather more time-consuming than I had anticipated. It was easy enough to go through the text and amend the American spellings of particular words, but what surprised me was the amount of additional work required to amend some of the grammar, vocabulary and punctuation.

You don’t very often come across words which have completely different meanings on either side of the Pond but you do have to take into account things like different noun usage, different verb patterns and use of tenses, and different use of prepositions and adverbs. Until I did this work I had never really appreciated the amount of divergence which exists today between American and British English.

In terms of the spoken word we’re so familiar with American English usage over here, through TV, music and films, that we rarely misunderstand what Americans are saying. We take American English for granted and new examples of American English usage are creeping into the way we speak over here all the time.

Look at the written word on pretty much any American website though and the divergence between the two forms of English is quite apparent. It would have been easy for me just to let many of the differences go, because at the end of the day a British audience will have little difficulty in understanding the content on an American website.

As a professional copywriter I wanted to do the job properly of course – my brief was to edit the content so that it looked like it had been written by a Brit. On each page of content I had to make perhaps 10 to 20 edits. In this type of work edits have to be done manually – as far as I’m aware there is no software available which can flawlessly amend American English to British English.

The key learning point for me from doing this, and one that I would like to pass on, was….don’t underestimate how much work is required to amend American English web content to British English.

 

Steve Shaw, Bishopsgate Copywriting

Bishopsgate Copywriting are based in Sevenoaks, England and specialise in financial and business copywriting and copyediting for websites and print media.