Book review: Making Your Website Work

NEaT member Jenny Zonneveld (BA, MITI) has written a book review for us of Gill Andrews’s Making Your Website Work: 100 Copy & Design Tweaks for Smart Business Owners. Jenny is a business translator and copywriter at TranslaText based in the Netherlands. She’s also an active member of NEaT’s sister society SENSE, former chair and currently webmaster. Here is her review:

I bought this book after it was mentioned by colleagues who had attended the ProCopywriters online Copywriting Conference 2020 last autumn. Gill Andrews was one of the many speakers who gave useful take-aways.

I had two reasons for my purchase:
• At the time I was still struggling to write copy for my own website, so acquiring a book about writing website copy was another excuse to procrastinate.
• I often translate websites and occasionally write articles, blogs and other bits and pieces for clients’ sites.

Making Your Website Work is the kind of book you can dip into regularly once you have read the introduction, twigged how the book works, and you have an idea of what you need. With 100 tips, it’s far too much to read, inwardly digest, and apply in one sitting.

I really like the way the book is organised and I love the light-hearted tone. Gill Andrews writes as if she’s talking to you. So, she uses ‘you’ a lot, and that’s the point of tip #14: How to discover (and eliminate) self-centred copy on your website. She recommends that website text addresses your visitors and uses words you’re 100% certain your target audience will understand. In this tip she also gives some customer-centric phrasing suggestions.

I also like the way the practical tips are categorised into one or more of the five themes to help you make your website more effective. You can select tips on Blogging, Copywriting, Website Design, Strategy, and User Experience.

As you flick through the book you can see the improvement area of each tip at a glance. It doesn’t really matter where you start, all 100 tips can be equally relevant. I also found the book useful during a recent website copywriting assignment. I was confident using a direct style addressing the reader, and knew not to suggest a carousel of user benefits.

Another thing I like about the book is the visual examples given to illustrate good and bad practices. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words!

Whether you want to get more mileage out of your own website, or help your clients improve theirs, I can recommend this fun and easy to read book. It’s inexpensive, I bought it from Amazon where it’s currently priced at about €12.50 for the paperback or €8.00 for the Kindle edition.

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