On Explanations and Copywriting

If you'd asked me what the hardest parts of making DebugMap would be, I would never have thought writing the explanatory text for the homepage would so high up on the list. Crikey, it's hard to explain things.

Being so close to the site and what it is, it's hard to explain to somebody who hasn't had the damn thing on their mind for 6 months. I made way too many assumptions about how the site worked. So my first stabs at copy for the homepage didn't really help, even to people who I had previously explained the site to. It was then I started reading about copywriting and how to write for an audience of potential customers.

The big turning point was when the great and powerful patio11 on HackerNews wrote about CopyHackers, a site by professional copywriter Joanna Wiebe. She has some really great stuff on there and her ebooks are chock full of must-have info if you're in the position I'm in. I haven't finished all of them but since I have to stop after reading each chapter and implement some of her advice it's well worth it. Honestly I was hesitant to spend the money at first but I'm so glad I finally bit the bullet. One of the pieces of advice that I remembered from reading people like Kathy Sierra was to stop saying things like 'We can do X, Y, Z' and replace that with 'You' messages about how the user will be better off using the site. Joanna also says this and it's a very helpful thing to always keep in mind.

Even after finding some wording for the homepage I thought was to the point, short, and powerful, it was a big dud. I got a couple of useful messages from people who basically said they still didn't know what the site did. Cue sad trombone. So I'm back at it. I've actually got a DebugMap going with a bunch of different versions of the text and all the changes I'm making. I'm also looking at other tool websites to see how they're doing things. I'm hoping that I'm not just putting off working on the site by reading and noodling under the guise of improving the copy. I'm trying everything I can to turn that homepage into something somebody new might read and say "Wow, I need this site!"

I wish I had some great ending to this post where I say "These words increased my conversions by 5000%!" But right now the site is so new I'm glad when I get a few hits a day and a signup a week. So I'm working away and trying not to get too distracted by Minecraft. :) One of these days I'll find the magic spell.

Thanks for reading!