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How to rewrite your website in one week

By Kristi Porter
October 14, 2019

Day 1: research and decision making. Photo by Carlos Muza on Unsplash

It’s an ambitious title, I know. But if you’re working at a nonprofit, I already know that you’ve got some big dreams and goals, so ambition is in your wheelhouse. Learning how to rewrite your website in one week should be a challenge that you’re up for.

Depending on your needs and capabilities, this process may not result in a complete overhaul of your website copy. It can, however, be just the makeover your website needs to increase its effectiveness. Think of it like your very own episode of Fixer Upper. And, seriously, who didn’t want to be on Fixer Upper?

At a minimum, you’ll be able to rewrite your most visible content, which will make a big difference for both new and returning visitors. I did it in a weekend, so I know it is possible.

What’s so important about your website?

If you’ve been putting off creating new website content, think about it this way: Your website is one of your most important marketing assets. Plus, it’s working nights and weekends, and won’t get tired.

It’s very important to make sure your digital doorstep is working correctly for you.

Follow these steps to learn how to not only rewrite your website copy quickly but feel a huge sense of accomplishment and relief after just a few days.

And, hey, the earlier you finish, the sooner Happy Hour begins! 

When should you rewrite your website?

Most nonprofits that I talk to have been putting off rewriting their website content for ... let’s just say quite a while. In fact, it’s been on the back burner for so long that, at this point, they just assume they’ll wait a few more years until the website is redesigned to take another look.

Sound familiar?

This perspective, dear readers, is a problem. As I mentioned above, your website is too important to ignore.

It’s where you talk about your important work.
It’s where you display your impact.
It’s where you receive donations!

So, when should you consider rewriting your website content? Here are a few situations that come to mind:

  • When you’ve gone through big changes
  • When your services or products have changed, shifted, or evolved
  • When it’s been virtually the same for at least two years
  • When you go through a visual rebranding

Even if nothing has changed significantly, try to evaluate your website at least annually to ensure it’s up to date and showing off your good side. 

Prep work

In order to write your website copy quickly, you’ll first need to gather a few things. So, I’ve included this as prep work rather than day one in case it has to be acquired from another source.

I also like this approach because any of you who have been putting this project off for a long time, or who find writing more difficult, can begin getting used to the idea. Think of this like the slow build of “Eye of the Tiger.” This is your training montage. It’s happening over time, and you’re psyching yourself up for what’s to come.

Your prep work is to get your hands on any data you can. It could include website analytics, surveys, your brand voice guide, and donor information. If you have a staff or team, you might even want to put together a quick survey for improvements and suggestions in case you’d like another set of eyes. You’ll use this information to inform everything you write.

Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Day 1: research and decision making

Here we are! Consider this “demo day” for your website content. This is where you’ll tear into the research and decide what needs to be rebuilt.

Grab all that data you’ve been gathering and begin analyzing.

You’re looking for information such as:

  • Your most-viewed pages, so that you know which ones to tackle first, and in what order
  • Products/services/programs people are most interested in, so you can make sure they are presented well
  • Words and phrases that donors, partners, or beneficiaries of your work use over and over
  • Words and phrases that are unique to your particular organization as well as those that are great descriptors of your work
  • Reoccurring themes, such as words your site ranks for, or topics that are searched frequently on your site
  • Responses from your internal survey that show the areas your team thinks should be addressed first

I realize you could spend a week just sorting through the data, but I’m only giving you one day. Look for trends, reoccurring topics, and summary information that will help point you in the direction you need to go.

Now you have an informed perspective on what to rewrite. It may be that you only need to focus on overhauling a couple of pages for the time being, or you can make minor changes across the site to see big improvements.

Realistically, in one week you can probably get through three to five pages of content or making minor tweaks throughout the entire site. I’ll use the example of three pages below, but feel free to do whatever works for you in order to get the best results.

Day 2: rewrite page 1

It’s go time! Do whatever you need to do to warm up, from coffee to calisthenics, because today you’re rewriting your first page.

Yesterday you learned which page is your most popular. I suggest starting there.

If, however, this page is a blog post or a similar piece of content, you can decide if you want to revamp it or not. Is it bringing in qualified prospects? Then, I’d say it was worth your time to make sure it’s the best it can be. If it’s not, or you deem it to be less important than one of your main website pages, move on.

For many of you, your most popular page will be your home page. Makes sense, right? Your home page is generally where you’ll point everyone to when they’re getting to know you better.

Before you begin rewriting, I want you to use this process to guide you:

  • Strategize: Define the goal of your page. Is it to give a quick overview or point to one or two specific actions? Before you can rewrite your page, you need to understand its function and focus.
  • Evaluate: What needs to change? Are you making small or significant edits? This information will help you mentally prepare for the job ahead.
  • Plan: Decide on a game plan for tackling the web page copy. If it’s a longer page, can you break it into multiple sections so that it’s easier to look at and read? Should sections be condensed because they’re too wordy? How does the page’s copy fit together holistically?
  • Write: Begin writing, keeping in mind the takeaways from your research.

Wrap up day one with a little celebration. You’ve just made significant progress that will set you up for the coming days!

Day 3: rewrite page 2

Okay, hopefully you’re feeling pretty good after yesterday. Use that momentum to fuel you for the day ahead.

Repeat yesterday’s four-step process to get to work on your second page. For a lot of you this will be your services, programs, or products page.

This may be your hardest page to work on since there is likely a lot of information on it. And why wouldn’t there be? You’re doing something incredible!

Put yourself in the mind of your website visitor, however. What would make it easiest and most engaging for them? Think about breaking up large chunks of information and streamlining wherever possible.

You may also need to make a note to add more photos and video later, but for now, focus on making the words easy to understand while highlighting impact and transformation.

Done? Pat yourself on the back and get ready for your last, big hurdle.

Day 4: rewrite page 3

It’s not rocket science! Today you have a formula and two days of improvements to build on.

Some people may be surprised to find that their About page is one of their top-ranking website pages. Most of us want to know who is running a nonprofit, however, and a little more about its story.

But I think too many nonprofits get this page wrong. There are a couple of reasons why. First, some organizations that simply copy and paste their mission, vision, and values on this page and call it a day. They don’t make much use of the page—even though statistics show that lots of people are visiting.

Second, and I’ll grant you that this is a change in marketing over the years, they make the About page all about them. Counterintuitive, I know. Shouldn’t your About page be all about you? The short answer: nope.

Your About page can do a lot more heavy lifting than you’ve been giving it credit for. Use this page to include your donors and beneficiaries. Think of it less about you, and more about us.

Talk about your amazing work, yes, but do it in such a way that people can see themselves in it. Show them that, without them, the impact just isn’t possible. Make this page about everyone involved, not just a few sentences you duplicated from an old business plan.

Finally—and here’s the twist with day four—get feedback. If you’re unsure about what you’ve written or need another perspective, send your newly written copy to a few others to get their reactions. I think three to five people is a good number, because you can gain some consensus rather than rewriting it again based on one person’s opinion. (And tell them you need their response by noon the following day.)

Hold tight—we’re almost there!

Day 5: feedback and fluff

It’s the last day! How are you feeling? Great, I hope! We’re in the final stretch, and you’re going to bring it home strong.

Today is all about tying up loose ends. While you’re waiting on feedback from your carefully chosen few, I want you to pick another short page to rewrite, and/or comb through several pages where you can make quick updates.

Here are some faster changes you can make:

  • Replacing words or phrases with the insight from your research
  • Adding headlines and subheads to make pages easier to read
  • Making the layout more consistent with the new pages you’ve written

And if I might suggest one page to take another look at, it’s your donation page. Lots of nonprofits have really boring donation pages. The only info on the page is how to donate and where to provide your banking info. Instead, why not take time to add a few sentences reminding people about what their donation will do or the kind of impact they can make? Give it a little more pizzazz and watch it pay off, literally.

That’s a wrap! You’ve rewritten your website in a week!

Okay, it may not be final, it may not be live, or it may not be every page, but you’ve just completed a lot of work in a very short amount of time. If this is a project you’ve been putting off for a while, it’s got to feel really good.

General copy-writing tips

Before I go, as a copywriter I feel the need to share a few parting words of wisdom that you should keep in mind as you write your updated website content:

  • Keep it short. It pains me to say it, but most people won’t read every word on your website. For that reason, be sure to use shorter paragraphs that are quicker to read, subheads and formatting to make the text easier to look at, and streamlined copy—never use four paragraphs when two will suffice.
  • Keep it simple. Always strive for clarity over being clever. Otherwise, you may confuse your audience.
  • Keep it audience-focused. Talk about what they want to read, not what you want to say. One of the reasons I had you note words and phrases that your audience uses is because you want to use their words when writing your website. Again, this technique allows them to really “see themselves” in your site, thinking you wrote it just for them. That leads to deeper engagement and loyalty.
  • Keep it consistent. If multiple people have contributed to your website over the years, make sure the language, punctuation, and grammar are consistent. For example, do you use or not use the Oxford comma? Is there a phrase that’s part of your unique vocabulary that should be repeated?
  • Keep it in sight. Along the lines of the first bullet point, make sure your most important information is always at hand and in sight. Because people tend to skim and won’t read every page, it’s your job to ensure that your “in a nutshell” info (and donation link) is placed throughout the site and not just compartmentalized to one page where it might get missed.

Wrapping up

Your website is one of your best opportunities to strengthen your relationship with current donors and engage with prospective donors, so it’s vital that you keep it updated and in the best shape possible.

Remember, to begin, you may only need to revamp a few, key pages to increase effectiveness, retain website visitors, and secure donations. Small changes can create a big impact.

The work you’re doing is important. And when you’re not there to describe it, that job often falls to your website. Is your website doing its job?

Tags: Websites