When it comes to the optimal length of copy for websites, emails, advertisements, letters and brochures, it seems that every businessman is an expert. The problem is that what most people consider to be expertise is actually only a personal preference or bias learned.
The simple answer is that the correct amount of copy is exactly what it takes to accomplish the goal. Sometimes it can be a sentence or two; other times, he may require a manuscript of book length. Contrary to popular belief, length will not dissuade people from what you have to say, as long as they believe your words are meaningful and worthy of their time.
It is true that typical copy lengths have decreased in the last generation. Compare today's newspaper or magazine articles, product brochures or announcements with their counterparts from thirty years ago, and you'll see that they tend to be significantly shorter. One of the reasons is that our attention abilities are diminishing, heavily influenced by television and the Web. If you look at times of a revolutionary action show from the early 1980s, you will probably find that it is slow and laborious compared to the likes of NCIS . This is because our eyes and our brains are used to seeing more images and movements in the same amount of time.
The way we use the Internet has also resulted in the transition to a shorter copy. In the early days of the web, most sites were heavy "brochures". As broadband ushered in faster connections, we really started using browsers for navigation. Spectators were less likely to scroll down, so it became essential to place the key information closer to the top of the page. There was even an overflow on the printed material, as most people stopped reading word for word and began scanning the page quickly.
Portable devices have intensified the trend. Now, the key elements of a message must be condensed so that they fit on a screen smaller than the palm of your hand. You may have seen 150 to 200 visible words on the typical website, but you'll be lucky to have 30 or 40 on a device.
Should I fear that professional writers are about to become obsolete? Not at all. You see, lower word counts mean that every word has to count. There is no room for wasting or linting, and making words their hardest job is where professional writers excel. However, anyone who writes can benefit from the following tips.
If you create a copy for a website, blog post or something else that will be displayed on a screen, make sure your opening phrases contain the most important information for your public target. Do not waste time with long introductions or sharing things that they already know, such as "our industry is very competitive, and product users must make the choices that best meet their needs." Get to the point!
You may have more than you want to say, so post it on your site and give users who want it an easier way to access it. In this way, skimmers who simply want a quick recovery will not be forced to wade into material books that do not matter to them.
If you develop printed material such as brochures or white papers, remember that no one will read every word. Instead, respond to skimmers by breaking large subjects into smaller pieces. Use subtitles, introductory mentions, shorter paragraphs and other techniques to guide the skimmers in the document so that they can quickly find what matters to them the most. Do not be offended if they read less what you have developed because the portions they read will be more suited to their needs.
Finally, if you plan on tweeting, do not assume that you must use all the 140-character limits of Twitter. If you can convey your key message in just 80 or 90 characters, it's wonderful, and it's a sign that you're an effective communicator. Stuffing your tweet closer to 140 characters will actually make it less effective.
Do not waste words or the reader's time trying to satisfy misconceptions about the length or length of the copy. Make sure everything you write is exactly long enough to reach the goal. You see, it's the perfect length.