Jun 13, 2017

5 Tips to Develop Your Website’s Voice & Tone

The content on your website has a personality — whether you want it to or not. This personality comes across with the content’s overall voice and tone. While it may be unplanned or inconsistent from page-to-page, the voice is the distinct personality, style and point of view that your messages convey. The tone is the subset of the voice, it’s the overall mood and feeling the content creates.

Your goal is to make the copy consistent across all marketing copy — but today, we’re focusing on websites. Here are five tips to help you develop solid voice and tone guidelines to ensure the personality your website is expressing is aligned with your brand and business goals.

Audit Your Existing Copy

It’s important to audit and review your existing website copy or other marketing collateral if you’re creating a website for the first time. Make note of the formality or casualness of the language, the use of adjectives, calls to action, and even repetitive usage of certain words and punctuation like exclamation marks. As a best practice, this information should be catalogued in a content matrix or audit spreadsheet, which will help you identify both inconsistencies and patterns in the overall voice and tone.

Ask The Right Questions

When auditing existing or drafting new website copy, ask yourself: Does the voice of this copy sound natural, as if it were coming from one of your team members? Does this tone accurately represent your company and brand? While basic, these simple questions should be in the back of your mind whenever new copy is drafted.

Determine What Works/Doesn’t

With the content audit in hand and an overarching view of language patterns, ask yourself what is successful, what is weak and what is detrimental about the content. You should be able to identify what each message is trying to accomplish — and whether or not it’s clear. Some websites have different logins or portals for different audiences, and it’s important to note that these should have a different voice and tone. Regardless of the number of ventricles, identify the copy “that works the best.” This will be used as a starting point when you’re ready to write.

Identify Adjectives Or Personality Traits

Now that you’re equipped with the audit and have a “best in class sample” of work, identify three to five adjectives to describe your overall voice. For example: Those adjectives may be professional, trusted, straightforward, conscientious and flexible. You can also think of these adjectives as personality traits that your company might have were it a person.

Develop A Guide

With old content complied, the right questions answered, a strategy for what does/doesn’t work, a sample of strong content and the unique identifiers for how you want your copy to sound and feel — it’s finally time to create a guide and write. The guide should be simple and include 1) the adjectives/traits you’ve identified 2) written examples of that voice and tone being used across multiple platforms (i.e., website and social). While separate, this guide should be used in tandem with a company style guide.

With these straightforward tips, you’re five steps closer to creating a consistent personality and messaging for your brand. From here, it’s all about hiring the best writers and editors who can not only create content that fits the overall voice and tone, but regulate and adjust it when needed.