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People like to talk about whether a site is good or bad. I prefer to consider whether it works or not.  Some amazing looking sites fail to deliver; others that are pig-ugly perform magnificently.

Of course I am biased, but I firmly believe ‘sites that work have words that work’.

To test the effectiveness of a web page, I use my own simple assessment tool.

It’s called the SRRC Formula. Okay, it’s never going to have a memorable ring to it, but it’s worth applying to your web pages if you want a quick audit of all your hard work.

S is for speed

Web pages are all about speed. Your visitors are time-poor. They want what they are looking for to jump out and hit them in the chops, instantly. It’s become part of web culture.

You don’t sit in front of the computer with a steaming cappuccino to have a leisurely surf. Instead, you manically search for what’s on your mind. You rapidly cast your eye over headlines, key words and images, eager to know you’ve arrived at the right place.

The web copy recognises this in terms of:

  • Page layout that’s easy to scan.
  • Keywords that stand out from the main body text.
  • Fonts that vary in size and type to provide visual contrast.

All these give your reader the gist of your offer without them even consciously thinking about it.

R is for relevance

You land on the home page with a ‘what’s in it for me’ attitude. All you want to know is whether this site can give you exactly what you want. In copywriting terms, it’s called ‘entering into the conversation that is already going on in the mind of the reader’.

Relevant web copy reflects a clear understanding of your target reader and the things they want to know about.

Too often, web copy is generic. It tries to appeal to a wide audience in the hope of catching a larger number of fish. However, the wider your net, the more rubbish you are going to attract.

Instead your web copy should be: 

•    Directed at a particular niche.
•    Narrower in focus.

Think about the sort of fish you want to catch and channel your efforts into writing copy relevant to them.

This is one reason Google is so successful. 

Google doesn’t give two figs about the advertisers who pay them millions of dollars. It only cares about the relevance of the information they provide to prospective customers. If they don’t think your ad is relevant to your copy, they will give you a low Quality Score.

R is (also) for rapport

This one is a little tricky. It only works when visitors have stopped scanning and have actually read some of your web copy.

Rapport is about a writing style that informs, involves and inspires.  And one of the best ways to do this is to get more conversational. Because websites are informal places, readers are more drawn to web copy with a bit of personality than those that are dull and plodding.

Think ‘Boden’ – the mail order, e-retailer company. Part of its success is due to the informality of its copy. It is personal, honest and fresh. It has its own unique style, designed to appeal to the type of 'fish' it wants to attract. 

   Boden web copy

A great way to create rapport in your web copy is to go ‘down the pub’. After a pint or glass of wine, ask someone about a product/service they provide; their passion and enthusiasm is always tangible.

It’s certainly very different to what you’d get if you’d plonked them in front of a computer and asked the same question.

C is for credibility

Credibility often carries the killer punch. 

Credibility reassures your reader that you have the ability and track-record to deliver.

Credibility comes in many forms

  • The way you write and the confidence that leaps out from your web copy.
  • Testimonials – you can’t have too few; pictures make them more powerful.
  • Years of experience or expertise – give some peace of mind.
  • Case Studies – show results and customer satisfaction.
  • White Papers & e-Books – demonstrate your thought leadership.
  • Guarantees – whether satisfaction or financial, they reflect your belief and confidence in what you offer.

Few pages or sites offer all of these. But showing you’re aware of them is an important part of the SRRC Formula.

Applying the Formula

When all the elements are in place, it works like this:

S + R + R + C = Satisfied Reader = Potential Customer

This is important stuff because...

Readers want the maximum amount of information in the least amount of  time. They want your copy to be relevant to what’s going on in their head. 

They want to know you understand them. Finally, they want proof you have a good track record.

Apply the SRRC formula to your own pages and see the difference it can make.

If you too believe that 'sites that work have words that work' you may enjoy my free eBook 'The New Rules of Writing for the Web.


Published 16 March, 2011 by Joe Pelissier

Joe Pelissier is Managing Director at Pod Publications and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter, or connect via LinkedIn

4 more posts from this author

Comments (3)


Andy Watts

Great article and advice for those developing a web presence, and all the soul searching that goes with it; quite fancy the "Confetti Dress" myself.

over 5 years ago


Flexsin Web Consultant

Web Consultant is unified with graphic design, high-end technical experts and marketing specialties to meet the targets with in bottom/top line. The streamlined business process automation and system integration support us to save our clients both time and money.
These information is more valuable thanks for sharing thease information.

over 5 years ago


Kevin Taylor, CEO Gravytrain Online Marketing

An excellent article and well put. I'm amazed at how many of our customers worry about the look of their website over the content of it. It's a constant battle but one I think we are winning. It's what works that counts and the key to success testing, refining and testing again. Convincing a client to test something that they don't particularly like the look of can be tough but there's a huge amount of satisfaction when they see the results.

over 5 years ago

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