B2B Writing | Improve Web Content & Styles

We've been working with a client to develop a new website. The old site was primarily photo-based with little explanation and no description. The new site is simple, clear and dynamic, and both the content and visuals are tailored to suit their primary target customer groups.

As part of this redesign, we've discussed the value of creating a custom web content style guide, a simple device for tracking special terms, treatments and spellings. Since this client has multiple websites and an official blog or two, keeping track of these details and being consistent are important.

Consistency is important for you, too, because:

  1. It helps you appear polished, professional and capable, which are qualities customers and prospects value.
  2. It improves your findability factor, since prospects searching for a specific term are more likely to find you and the high-value content you offer if you use a consistent spelling.
  3. It builds brand recognition and reinforces brand standards, which helps you maintain a quality online presence.
  4. It saves time, money, frustration, rework and, yes, embarrassment. There's nothing like the discovery that your company name, central products and/or primary services are regularly misspelled or treated differently in every blog post and medium.
While we frequently construct custom style guides for a wide range of clients and projects, there are other options. If you don't want to start from scratch and you're in the process of creating or revamping your website, use The Web Content Style Guide (McGovern, Norton & O'Dowd).

It shares valuable, basic advice about writing for the web and provides a fairly comprehensive alphabetical compilation of web-based terms, issues, spellings, grammar guidelines, etc. It won't answer all your questions, but it will provide a ready-made solution to about 80% of the issues you're likely to encounter.

Many folks are familiar with the AP style guide (The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law). This, too, is a handy resource in some instances, but it has some fatal flaws. It's designed specifically for journalists and news media. It doesn't reflect practical B2B language issues or standards, and in many cases, the guidelines are stuffy, out of touch or impractical.

If you're not a journalist (and even if you are), Web Content is a more practical, useful resource.

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