Having the freedom to edit your own website is a wonderful thing, but it can also be a lot to take in at once. Let’s break it down, this time looking at editing text.
Like everything in life, a little learning and perseverance is needed if you want to keep your website running well and your users engaged. This post is for anyone who edits their own website, but isn’t a techie. It’s for those of you who have got the basic editing down, and now have the headspace to take that next step with your website editing.
In this post I look at some basic good practices when it comes to adding text to a website. I have another post looking at adding images, which you can find over here. Try my tips below one at a time if you need, refer back or just dive straight into it all; do whatever feels helpful for you. This list is by no means comprehensive, so look out for more posts in future where I share more tips. If there is something in particular you’d love me to cover in a future post, let me know in the comments below!
Let’s get started.
Be legal – use your own copy
A lot of the time I think doing things a bit differently and not always following the rules can create amazing things, but not with this. I can’t stress this enough – use your own content – it is illegal to copy other people’s work.
If you want to quote a short piece of someone else’s work, use a blockquote (sometimes called a pullquote) and include a citation and/or link to the original source. This way, not only are you acknowledging the person who originally wrote the text, but it is recognised by search engines as coming from another source too. If you want to quote a long piece of text, you would be better off just linking to the work and letting people read it from the original source themselves.
When we’re starting up business it can be tough to find our voice. It’s very tempting to look to what other people are doing and have written in order to find our own direction, but the best place to look is within ourselves. No-one else will have the same style, tone and viewpoints as us, and it is our own uniqueness that will attract the right customers. If you’re struggling to write copy, it might be worth considering getting some external support from friends, family, courses or even a copywriter.
In the words of the great Billie Holliday:
“You can’t copy anybody and end with anything. If you copy, it means you are working without any real feeling.”
When you add a heading, mark it as a heading in your text settings. Just making the text larger or bolder doesn’t do this, you need to actively select a heading option. This will be different depending on your website platform, but look out for a text formatting option that actually says ‘heading’. Using headings will visually help your readers look through your content, and also help search engines understand your pages better. In web design, there are different levels of headings, and it’s good practice to use them in their hierarchal order so your text is ‘stacked’ properly.
On websites, headings are ordered numerically by their size/importance:
Heading 1 is for your top level or main heading, and usually only gets used once on a page to show the page or post title.
Heading 2 comes next. You can see these as sub-headings from now on. Use heading 2’s to break up your heading 1 content.
Then there’s heading 3 – use it to break up your heading 2 content.
Use heading 4 to break up your heading 3 content. And so on…
You’ll find you rarely use anything beyond heading 4 though, you’ll most likely use headings 1, 2 & 3 far more.
The styles for each heading will be different on your website depending on your own personal style settings. You’ll see how each heading reduces in size though, which naturally suggests the next level down. Using the heading tags for your headings is good practice on websites and I highly recommend you use them. It maintains consistency through your website and is good for search engine rankings.
Add text as text, not as an image
That’s basically it. As a rule, it’s better to type text on websites not to upload it as an image. There’s quite a few reasons for this, including:
1. Text is much smaller size-wise than an image in website terms. Images take longer to load, and slow websites down.
2. The text won’t always show clearly if it is in image form (it’s liable to pixellate)
3. The text can’t be re-sized by the end user, so if someone needs to view larger text they won’t be able to.
4. If you need to change any of the text, it’s a faff.
5. It doesn’t translate well to mobile. It’s likely the text would be hard to read after it has been re-sized to fit a mobile screen, and sometimes images just straight out aren’t loaded on mobile sites. Globally, over 50% of all website traffic comes through mobile, which means that about half of your website visitors are probably looking at it from their phone: mobile is important.
If you want a nice image as a background to your text, there are other ways to make this happen. If you’re not sure how, get in touch with a web designer for support – different platforms and themes have different ways of managing this.
Hyperlinks are your friend
This may be teaching you to suck eggs, but a hyperlink is essentially just a clickable link on your website… like this. The buttons for adding and removing hyperlinks are fairly universal – look for the little chains or something that looks very similar:
The left ‘unbroken’ chain creates a hyperlink, and the right ‘broken’ chain removes a hyperlink. Generally, you will need to select the text you want to be linked, click the chain button, and then type or paste your chosen url into the box that appears. If you are having trouble working this out, I suggest doing a Google search or asking your web designer for support.
Types of links
There are two types of hyperlinks which your users will thank you for using, and search engines look for.
Inbound hyperlinks: Links which take users to somewhere else on your website. These are important to help users navigate around your site. For example, if I were to say you can contact me, it’s much better to add a link there so you can go directly to the contact page.
Outbound hyperlinks: Links which take users to other people’s websites. Like this (enjoy the inanity).
Both are equally important, and it’s good to aim be consistent in how you present them and make sure they work (i.e. test them).
Hyperlinks for email addresses
This is simpler than you might think.
An email link will open your users email software, and open a new email for them to send to you. To do this all you need to do is use the following as a hyperlink:
…changing firstname.lastname@example.org to the email address you want the email to be sent to. Voila!
Thanks for reading!
Is there anything you’d like to see me cover in future? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you.