Brilliantly Creative / Technical Writing

4 Ways to Identify Stale Web Copy

Today I’m taking notes from this article from Freelance Review about writing great web content, specifically that when you launch a new site or redesign an old one, you shouldn’t recycle content from a brochure or old site. Instead, you should take the opportunity to write something fresh and original.

First, amen and amen! Copy goes stale over time. Contact info changes. People change. Products change. What was brilliant or pithy or fantastic then is cliche’, annoying, and tacky now. A writer’s work is never done, just abandoned, right?

Second, oh crap. I am guilty of recycling copy. You know why? Because it’s easy. Because I worked so hard to write the first round of copy and can’t I just use it in one more place? Dang it.

How to Tell If Your Copy’s Gone Stale

Read the copy in question. Then ask yourself these questions:

  1. Am I awake? Did the copy put me to sleep?
  2. Am I crying? Did the copy bore me to tears?
  3. Am I feeling nostalgic? Did the copy reference parachute pants?
  4. Am I working for this company? Did the copy use names/products/events that you don’t know?

When you’ve convinced yourself that you’re ready to rewrite your copy, answer these questions:

  • What’s changed?
  • What’s new?
  • Can this be said differently?
  • Can this be said in fewer words?
  • Can this be better organized?

These questions should get your started thinking about your copy. As for me, I am tucking this tidbit of advice in my back pocket and am off to rewrite my about page. It needs some serious attention!

Time to vote, Votey McVotersons. Brilliantly creative? Or gigantic idiot?



One thought on “4 Ways to Identify Stale Web Copy

  1. Great points! I’d like to add one to your questions in point: Is this information necessary? Too many times I’ve seen sites overloaded with copy. With so many mobile devices, people want information fast. They don’t want to sift through all the fluff to get what the information they need.

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