Now is the time to tell your story

Logo for National Storytelling Week of the Socitey for StorytellingThis week is National Storytelling week in which people of all ages are encouraged to spin tales that “create magic between the breath of the teller and the ear of the listener” (from Society for Storytelling website).

It seems to me that this is exactly what you should be striving for with your website. Whilst, I hasten to add, I’m not encouraging you to spin yarns of fantasy, your story needs to be magical to compel your reader to want to know more and ultimately submit to your call to action.

So what do I mean by your story?

The foundations of your story will be the brand characteristics and values of your “organisation”, whether that be you as an individual, the business or even a charity – whatever the website is representing. What does your organisation hold dear? Are speed and efficiency your forte? Are you a family business that offers a very personal service? Are your products low-priced and good value for money? Before embarking on your website make a list of 4-6 characteristics and values that epitomise your organisation, your products or your services.

Image of a quote by Plato: Those who tell the stories rule societyTell your story

The substance of a story is generally the words. Unless you are, for example, an artist or photographer where your work will tell much of your story for you, this is generally true for a website. However, in a story book it is often fine to be descriptive. On a website it is best to to keep the text brief and succinct as web surfers tend to scan the words and will not take in a lot of detail.

The introduction: The “About (me/us)” page

Most websites include an “About (me/us)” page that gives a bit of history about the organisation and its objectives. This is a good place to start in telling your story. But make it a short one – noone will read War and Peace about your life history! Think about the style – you want to engage with your reader so that they want to buy from you. Remember, people buy from people! So what should it include?

  1. Start with a bold statement that sings your praises – after all, if you don’t you can’t be sure that anyone else will!
  2. Follow that with an introduction to you/your organisation, what you do, the sort of people you work with (or want to engage with). Make sure you get across your brand values and characteristics in this section.
  3. Tell your story! How did you get to where you are now? Here you can be a tiny bit descriptive – everyone loves a good story as long as it doesn’t go on too much!
  4. What is your “raison d’être”? What excites you about what you do?
  5. Tell them something about you that shows that you have a personality, for example, something you’ve done that’s a bit unusual or a little bit about a hobby or interest.

Image to illustrate the magic of writingThe main written content

It’s more difficult to be prescriptive here as the content will depend on the objectives of your website. However, in general:

  • Be succinct.
  • Use bullet points or a numbered list wherever possible.
  • Focus on the advantages and possible benefits of engaging with your organisation or using your products or services.
  • Avoid jargon that might not mean anything to someone outside your industry.
  • If you have a lot of detail, for example technical information, that may be of interest, think about including it on a pdf download or separate page to avoid drowning the visitor during his initial search.
  • Check and recheck grammar and spellings.

If writing is not your expertise I would recommend using a professional copywriter, or get a professional proof-reader to check your text before publishing it.

Illustrate your story

Perhaps more important in telling your story is the “other content”. Images and video are much more important in grabbing attention initially – a page of solid text is much less likely to be read than one illustrated with photographs, graphics and film.

  • Make media relevant to the content on the page.
  • Don’t be shy: remember that people buy from people, so include a photo of you and/or your team on the “About” page.
  • If possible use a professional photographer – poor imagery can be even worse than none at all!

Once upon a time…

Why not make National Storytelling Week your inspiration to “create magic between the breath of the teller [you] and the ear of the listener [or perhaps eyes of the visitor]” on your website?



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