Replacing Lorum Ipsum
During every website build or campaign there comes a time to replace the dummy text and broad bullet points with actual words. Inevitably there are always a few questions from clients.
- How do you help us with that?
- What if we have some copy on our current site, but we hate most of it?
- What if we like some of the writing—but it’s just not quite right for the new site design and structure?
- We need to start over, how will you ever get it done in time?
- How will you know how to write for my business?
A little background on our process before we get started
While we practice ‘content-first’ design here, it’s rare for strategists and designers to have final copy in their hands before jumping into userflows, sitemaps, and moodboards. The broad strokes are there, and as we begin to prototype the details are filled in. For example, if we’re working through a dense page, we might use low-fidelity wireframes with detailed annotations to not only help relate to the client exactly what each section will communicate, but also give us a detailed reference when it comes to writing that section. As the design advances, we begin transferring the general messages and bullet lists to a master copy deck and adding lorum ipsum to the design.
Lorum Ipsum is placeholder text used publishing and graphic design popularized in the 60’s that allows designers to create the form of the content before the content itself has been produced.
The Content Audit
Now that we have a good idea of the content we need for the new website or campaign, it’s time to evaluate the content your team already has. Depending on your needs, we may opt to perform a content audit. We offer two types, depending on your goals; a full content audit and a click-through audit. While the full content audit dives into mapping content to personas and the buying cycle, the click-through audit focuses on the readability and targeted keywords of each paragraph or section (shown below).
Four Levels of Writing
While the simplified flowchart to the right makes it seem like all content needs to be rewritten if deemed substandard—but that’s not the case. Copy has many levels sometimes clients don’t need to rewrite everything or start from scratch. Often if overall message still rings true but most of the sections are too verbose or lack a punch—that’s where we come in and recommend one of four levels of copywriting (often a combination of all four), based on your goals and budget.
This is basic copyediting. We will work to improve readability while ensuring that all copy is free of error, omission, inconsistency, and repetition. Often, editing for the web involves consolidating content to provide the most concise and compelling copy possible in the fewest words. Editing is usually accomplished while the website or campaign is in development.
The EditPlus is an edit—plus some other stuff. The other stuff are typically writing tasks that aren’t considered a full rewrite—but are beyond copyediting. This can include headlines, subheads, transitions, summaries, and leads. We provide one revision for EditPlus projects/sections and this task is usually accomplished during design and development.
A Rewrite is exactly what it sounds like. We take your existing material as a starting point for discussions and begin working through what copy still works, what doesn’t, and why. From those discussions and our persona/userflow research, our copywriters are able to draft sections for review. Rewrites make up the majority of our copy work and we provide up to two revisions. This task is usually started during the initial phases of design, once we’ve settled on structure and general wireframes.
Without any source material start with, we begin with a clean slate. When this happens, we like to start talking with stakeholders extremely early in the process (before strategy and design) and will often push for the business to invest in messaging (more on this below). This level of writing is often required for startups or companies that have recently rebranded. We provide up to three revisions for anything we write from scratch.
How can you write for our business?
“You don’t know my business; how can you possibly write about it?” Clients questioning the value of professional copy occasionally utter this phrase or a variation of it. Our response is simple: “That’s actually a huge advantage, and here’s why.”
When clients are caught up in the daily operations of a business, it’s difficult to see the big picture and to focus on the needs and priorities of their website traffic. Many professionals we work with, while experts in their respective fields, are not experts at marketing their services and expertise. As a result, when clients elect to write for themselves, the content is often business focused as opposed to customer focused—leaning into business storytelling rather than customer priorities.
An outside pair of eyes and someone who writes marketing rhetoric five days a week can be just what your business needs to communicate your most important customer benefits.