Category Archives: Mobile

Purchasing Furniture – Why Did She Buy From Your Store?

By My Web Writersphoto (1)

This typical female, Gen X, furniture customer Is ready to buy. Where will she make her purchase?

Today I’m pausing to journal about the major furniture purchases I recently made. I’m doing this for both of us. Though they’re in other industries, we’re always looking for ways to improve online marketing for our clients.

When I shop, I often revert to a personal pattern that pre-dates my use of the Internet.  Do you?  If not, you’re younger than thirty-five.  Though, I’ve changed through the years, I’m probably typical for a female, age 35 – 50.  Knowing that 65% of US shoppers will browse online and buy in stores over the holidays, how can we better serve this lucrative demographic?  What triggers dollars spent at your store?

Of course, I’m just one woman and each woman is an individual, but here’s a snapshot of how I arrived at furniture purchases from four different stores during the week prior to Thanksgiving 2013.

Top of the Furniture Sales Funnel

The buying process started a few weeks earlier.  A builder suggested that we look at Houz, a home ideas app, for backyard ideas.  The app offers ideas for all rooms of your home, too.  We never did build, but the trends I saw in the app stayed top-of-mind when it was time for furniture in the home we recently purchased.

I could have scoured Pinterest, too, but I didn’t.  I just didn’t have a lot of time to hunt and peck for pieces of online furniture and more ideas to confuse the choices.  Time is valuable and I tried not to waste it.

Middle of the Furniture Sales Funnel

Like many Americans, when it came time to shop for furniture, I drove to the nearest showrooms- Kittles, Ashley Furniture, Value City Furniture, Kittles Express, Office Max, Office Depot, and Houseworks.   Kinesthetic shoppers need to see, to feel, and to touch each piece to envision family and guests relaxing, conversing, working, and eating.

Would the quality be worth the price?  Would the exact colors match the floors, walls, countertops, and appliances?  What are today’s trends and which classics are still hip?  I didn’t shop online when I was absorbing information because I learned plenty in the stores.

In one store, a sales woman approached my husband and me and wouldn’t stop chattering. If we paused at a piece to discuss it, she’d wiggle into the middle of our conversations.  We’d politely stand there wondering when she would stop. After doing this for the third time, we quickly walked out because a hungry salesperson’s stalking, at this stage, wasted our time and was annoying.  We weren’t buying on that day.  We were just looking.

The office furniture seemed blah- mostly ugly, big ego desks or very cheap, modern designs with little space to spread or to store.  The sofas were perplexing.  Do we buy another puffy couch for the family room or a grandma-like sofa for the living room? Nothing appealed, at first.

Did we want to have a fun and casual red set or an espresso, leather upscale look? The new kitchen table needed to be round, but how big?  Should it match or contrast our floors? Should we go rustic or classic? Geez — so many choices.

Pages like the one below from Kittles did very little to help me to understand what I’d want in my living room, family room, kitchen, and office.

Kittles with no content

There is no category level content to entice or to educate.  With the exception of the main slide, the pictures don’t suggest use, features, or style. Kittles, if you’re reading this post, consider how strategic copy writing and editing can help both your conversion and SEO.  My own sales pitch aside (hey, I do understand the sales woman); there came a day when we could no longer function without furniture in our rooms.  It was time to buy.

Bottom of the Furniture Sales Funnel

Last Sunday, I decided the best place to find office furniture would probably be at an office supply store.  By then, I’d ruled out a modern, sleek look in the office. The sales person at Office Max offered the Black Friday price a week early and probably called me “Ma’am” fifty times.

Office Max pic

He put up with my indecisiveness over this desk verses that desk and he stopped talking after I cut him off on purchasing the extra protection plan.  The prices were exactly the same in the store as online.  This was a coordinated attack and I bought the furniture at the store with the same free delivery offered online.

Office Max product description

While the in-store experience offered set-up at a charge, notice that at the same purchase point online (the product page), the company’s set-up package is not suggested or offered.  If the customer has to hunt for it somewhere else on the website, forget it.  Adding drop down boxes for “I need set up” on each product page would immediately increase online revenues at Office Max.

The Final Hours of Purchasing Furniture

I spent nearly a day in Kittles yesterday trying to fine-tune what I wanted. Then, came the ping-pong price game.  Prices kept dropping, but we went back and forth so many times and it took so long, that by the afternoon, I left the store.

I opened my iPad and typed in searches for long-tailed keywords with model numbers to check pricing in other stores.  What was the price for a “Broyhill Travis sofa”?  Another business could have stolen my purchase in these moments when my sales person was going back to her manager for yet another price reduction request.

Broyhill Travis couch

After he said, “No, I can’t do it”, I would have bought online, especially if free shipping were offered. Instead, my search took me first to the Broyhill website.  Obviously, they didn’t want to get into the middle of price negotiations because they left out prices in their product descriptions.

Other stores did the same.  Instead of sharing prices, online store-after-store said, “request a quote”.  I didn’t have time to wait for a quote.

Request more info

With Thanksgiving in a few days, I wanted shopping done asap. Because I didn’t know if the purchase was sound, I dropped the sofa and chair from my list all together.

I took a trip back to Ashley Furniture and found a different sofa.  I popped into Value City Furniture and found a kitchen table and chairs that I liked better than the ones offered at Kittles and Ashley.  While there, the Value City online prices dropped, so a lower price was honored at the store.  Bed Bath and Beyond sold nifty bar stools for less and with free shipping. Then, I went back to Kittles and purchased the items I felt were fairly priced.  All of the stores said their prices were Black Friday prices and that if anything changed, they would honor the changes.  At a certain purchase point, most offered free shipping.

I’m waiting for the door bell to ring with my deliveries.  How fun!

What’s a key to increasing online conversions? Lower your online prices.  Develop better content (pictures, videos, and words) to display furniture in ways that highlight colors, finishes, and uses. Provide in-depth information.  Keep the various stages of the furniture sales funnel in mind and develop profiles of your buyers at each stage.

What have you noticed as important to increasing online sales, whether you’re in the furniture business or another industry?  How would the above process differ for a man or a younger or older person? How would the process differ for another woman in the same demographic? Take a moment to share!

~Jean


Other Posts:

Holiday Content Challenge- Let the Family Games Begin!

ZMOT- Where Consumers Are and Businesses Should Be

Adding Content to their Website Increased Our Client’s Keyword Reach

Twenty-five Effective, Call-to-Action Phrases in E-commerce Content

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Filed under Apps & Tools, Business Strategy, Customer Profile, Holiday Blog, Local, Mobile, Personas, Product Descriptions

Smarter Content for Mobile Devices

By My Web Writers

What do mobile ecommerce sites need and why?

Plain and simple, if your business doesn’t have a mobile site, you’re losing business. Think about it- do you see people at the store, in waiting rooms, or at the airport on their computers? Sure there are some, but most people are on their phones. This means that if your business doesn’t have a strong mobile site, you’re missing out on profit from mobile users.

It takes more than transferring your website to a mobile site. You’ve got to have smarter content for mobile devices or it won’t even be worth the trouble of having a mobile site. Here are some tips for making smarter content for mobile devices.

Simplicity is Key

Maybe your website is flashy. It has pictures that flash and words that blink. When creating a mobile site, you’ve got to keep things simple. You must keep in mind that the screen your customers are viewing is about the size of a deck of cards, if that big. Don’t overwhelm your site visitors with a lot to look at. Only the basics are necessary. Decide what the most important information is on your website, and include only that on your mobile site. Mobile sites are not the place for “fluff.”

Shopping with a purpose

Most people who turn to a mobile site want a quick experience. It’s like running to the grocery store and leaving the car running out front. You want to get in, get what you want, and leave. Make that easier for your customers to do without crowding your mobile site with unnecessary information. After all, the purpose of your site is to do business, so make it easy to do so.

One way to do this is to use creative call-to-action verbs that will make a shopper want to buy. Choose your words carefully and creatively. Make the shopping experience for your customer quick and fun.

A finger is not a mouse

Someone can easily take a mouse and click on a button when working on their laptop or desktop. On a cell phone screen, not so much. Buttons have to be created in a way that site visitors won’t accidently click on the wrong one, causing a frustrating experience.

Make checkout a breeze

We know there’s a lot you have to cover when a customer is checking out. There are terms and conditions, payment options, coupon codes, and more. Do everything in your power to minimize what’s done at checkout. Consider having a zip code lookup tool that will keep customers from having to type in a city and state. Anything you can do to make checking out simpler, do it.

Speed up your site

If a mobile user visits your site and it doesn’t immediately pop up, they will shop elsewhere. In our “I want it now” society, waiting for a webpage to load is a waste of time. The less content you have on your site, the faster it will load. Remember: only the basics. Shoppers want a fast and easy shopping experience. Make sure they get it when they visit your mobile site.

Ask for feedback

Launch your mobile site and ask for customer feedback. What do they like? What can be improved? Your first version of a mobile site shouldn’t be your last. It might take a few versions for you to figure out exactly what works best for your business. In the end, it will be well worth it! With more and more people using their cell phones for shopping, your mobile site will be a key part of doing business.

Don’t miss out on business you could be getting by having a mobile site. Gone are the days of having one website for multiple platforms. If you’re going to keep up with the mobile ecommerce world, make sure you have a simple, fast, and easy mobile site.  ~Natalie

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Seven Local Angles to Address in Your Content

My Web Writerslocal angle

As a local business or blogger, location alone is not enough to help maximize your reach to your target audience. It’s equally important to highlight local angles in your online content as well. In doing so, you create a niche market and improve search engine optimization (SEO) for those who may be searching by specific location. This is a powerful tool that can be easily incorporated into any type of content, no matter the size or industry. Take a look at these seven ideas for addressing local angles in your content:

1. Highlight other well-known businesses

As a local business you should be in touch and in tune with the fellow businesses that surround you. If you have a synergistic relationship with them, it’s easy to incorporate their services or skills into your own content by including their name and location. In doing so, you harness a portion of their SEO power for yourself. Link back to their web site and refer to them by their full business name. For content ideas, you can write about how your services complement each other and create an even greater benefit for customers who patronize you both.

2. Include landmark photos and tag appropriately

Another way to highlight your immediate surroundings is to include a mention of local landmarks, well-known businesses or tourist destinations in your content. All of these are heavily searched terms online. By including these same terms in your content as well as photos that are tagged with relevant keywords, you will improve your SEO for local searches. Try taking your own photos and writing about the personal meaning they have to you or your business. Maybe they’re something you see every day or something that inspires you.

3. Feature a local blogger

A quick search should provide you with many options for local bloggers in your area. They can cover an array of topics including opinion, sports, community events or night life. Reach out to one that is relevant to your content and ask if they would be willing to contribute a guest post for you to use. Even more simply, ask for permission to re-blog an article that relates to your business. Be sure to link back to the blogger and include their name and bio in your own content to maximize the impact.

4. Write a review

If you’ still stumped with how to include a local angle in your online content, try writing a review for a business or event that you know well. People are often searching for reviews online and by offering relevant and valuable content you will draw in more viewers to your own web site.

5. Make a resource guide

This is similar to writing a review, but instead you create an entire guide of multiple businesses or events in which you can offer some expertise. Give tips and advice that people can use to get the best experience and utilize links and keywords to your resources as much as appropriate.

6. Cover a community event

Businesses and night life are hot topics for local content, but so are community events. People are often looking for things to do or more information on a festival or community gathering they heard about. To incorporate an event into your content, try writing a “what to expect” feature where readers can learn what all is going on and when. Again, this creates valuable content which drives more readers and increases SEO.

7. Link to other local sites as often as possible

For all of the local angle ideas mentioned, it is critical that you include links to external sites for the different businesses, events and resources you reference. Linking to a web site that has strong SEO will help improve yours as well and will rank you higher in searches for the keywords you both share.

By adding a local angle to your content on a regular basis, you will improve your reach toward your target audience. For local businesses and bloggers this is a critical tool for maximizing your online potential and the impact of your content marketing! ~ Stephanie

Other MWW Articles:

Twenty-five Effective Call to Action Phrases

Local Ideas for National Brands

National Brands Without Physical Stores Struggle to Rank

 

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Filed under Business Strategy, Content, Content Marketing, E-Tail Category Content, Local, Mobile, Product Descriptions, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Social Media

What is Markdown and How Do Writers Use It?

By My Web Writers

HyperText Markup Language (HTML) has long been the official way to write content for the web. The pros use it to format text in ways that the average writer will never understand unless they take the time to learn it.

But there’s a tool some writers use and many more should be using when it comes to writing for the web. It’s called Markdown, and while it’s been around for some time now, many people still don’t understand how useful it can be.

Markdown, according to its creator John Gruber, is a “text-to-HTML conversion tool for web writers. Markdown allows you to write using an easy-to-read, easy-to-write plain text format, then convert it to structurally valid XHTML (or HTML).”

For web writers, XHTML/HTML can look like a complete mess and is difficult to read. Not only that, but it can be confusing with so many codes to remember and sprinkled about your writing. Writers might worry more about the HTML formatting than about the actual content.

Markdown is especially useful for web writers because it’s fast to type. There’s no highlighting, no dragging your mouse here and there, you simply use Markdown as you’re typing. It’s also easy to read. There aren’t tags and code in the way of what you’re writing.

Give it a shot using the online Dingus.  Here is an example of something written in Markdown, using the very helpful “Syntax Cheatsheet” on the right-hand side of the screen on the online Dingus:

markdown

Then, click on “Convert” and you are shown the HTML Source, which is covered in code and other sometimes confusing markings:

HTML

And the final preview:

Final

Markdown is especially great for web writers who don’t know HTML and even more useful for web writers who have no desire to learn HTML. Writing in HTML can be a huge, intimidating beast for new web writers, while Markdown is a kinder, easier way to write web content.

One of the reasons so many web writers love Markdown is that it uses plain text files. You can write it in any app or program you like and still be sure the formatting will stay the same if you switch to another program. It’s also easily compatible with a range of applications on your desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.  Search Google Play, the iTunes Store and online for a list of apps.

Using Markdown allows web writers to focus more on their content rather than the syntax of HTML. After all, it’s really all about the content, right? Using Markdown gives web writers the opportunity to type quickly while still formatting text.  There’s no more switching from writing-mode to HTML coding-mode.

Besides being easier to write and easier to read, it’s also available free (as shown above), which is difficult to find these days. There are some more extensive versions of Markdown out there, which do cost a minimal amount, but for the average user, you can find it online for free.  ~Natalie

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Filed under Apps & Tools, Blog Writing Tips, Content, Mobile, Web Writing Tools, Writing Resources

Is Your e-Store Prepared for Summer Shoppers?

My Web Writers

E-StoresAre you marketing and merchandising your website for this summer’s sales potential? According to Internet Retailer, the U.S. Commerce Department said that U.S. online sales totaled $225.5 billion in 2012, up 15.8% from $194.7 billion in 2011.  With the exception of sales in categories not commonly bought online—

Internet Retailer estimates that e-commerce accounted for 7.6% of total retail sales during the year, up from 6.8% a year earlier. Commerce Department estimates are based on a quarterly survey of more than 11,000 U.S. merchants.

It’s no wonder that such a large marketing emphasis is placed on preparing shopping web sites for each new season and sale.  Every effort counts.   As the weather finally heats up for the summer, many e-stores have rolled out their new merchandise and revamped their web sites. All businesses, regardless of size or industry, can learn from other creative and competitive websites. Let’s take a look at three examples of big name brands and how they’re poised to sell more this summer:

 

1.  Target.com

Target is known for its chic and trendy styles and its unique in-store shopping experience. Target pays special attention to creating this same vibe in its e-store. The web site design is simple, clean and incorporates the signature Target red color to promote brand recognition. Though this main design remains the same year-round, the homepage content is customized to the upcoming holidays and season. Going on right now is a sale on patio furniture and family swimwear.  Aside from the featured sales, Target has changed the photos to represent each of its main shopping categories to be summer-themed. For example the “Women’s” category shows a summery dress and the “Sports and Outdoors” category is represented with an above ground pool. These images, though subtle, entice shoppers to click and browse in areas they may have had no original interest in shopping.

What you can learn: The takeaway from Target’s summer-poised marketing is that images are powerful. If you are trying to sell seasonal items, then every image should be carefully chosen to remind shoppers of all the things they enjoy about that season. Even if they weren’t originally in the market for a pool, customers will be intrigued to click on images that pique their interests.

Target.com’s weakness is its lack of content.  It’s missing tips or suggestions to help customers visualize how to use its products.

Target.com is ready to go for the summer, though the "d" in "deals" should be capitalized.

Target.com is ready to go for the summer, though the “d” in “deals” should be capitalized and the exclamation point should be dropped. Oops. Can you spot the other capitalization errors?

2. Petsmart.com

Petsmart’s images are ready for summer.  The web site’s main sliding banner greets customers with various pictures of dogs running outside on sunny days. The other still images on the homepage are also of animals in outdoor settings. Moving beyond the homepage, the main items featured are geared toward use in the summer. For example, the dog section has leashes, harnesses and bike trailers aimed at outdoor lovers on the go.

What you can learn: While it’s only April, Petsmart has already positioned its web site with the most summer-related items first.   Like end-caps in physical stores, identify your store’s most desirable and in-demand products and place them at the forefront of the e-store.

Petsmart needs to add seasonal content.  Currently, its homepage bottom content is duplicated on several category pages, which isn’t great for search or for customers.  Petsmart.com could address pet owners’ most frequently asked questions about each category in those spaces.  It’s missing opportunities to educate new animal owners about the pros and cons of buying fencing, habitat accessories, and other pet supplies.

 

Petsmart.com was ready to take us outside for the summer, even though it was still snowing in the East and Midwest.

Even though it’s a cold spring in many parts of the United States, Petsmart.com helps consumers visualize summer outside with Fifi and Fido.

3. Gap.com

Gap is a brand that adapts to every new season. The colors and styles of their clothes act as decorations for the web site and can change the whole tone from summer to winter.  Clothing stores start advertising their new lines nearly a season in advance. Today, Gap.com is vibrant, bright and cheery with summer apparel.  Even the background graphic on the web site has been changed to read “Be Bright” in art-deco style lettering. From shorts and capri’s to sundresses and tank tops, one would think it’s already August at Gap.com.

Gap.com employs a clever trick with it's images. Notice the blue highlight of phrases that look like hyperlinks. You're encouraged to click the phrase, which leads to products.

Gap.com employs a clever trick with some images. Notice the blue highlight of “uniform shorts.” This phrase looks like a hyperlink. It’s not, but when clicked, the image is linked to the corresponding shorts store. Also, on this page, Gap transitions from spring to summer through use of a jacket with shorts and words that close out spring, while promoting summer.

What you can learn: Not all e-stores and web sites can be as adaptable to changing for each season as Gap, but if you are – utilize it! Tailor your font, graphics, background and colors to represent each season. Summer products seem to “pop” so much more when accompanied by other summer colors on the site and when your products look good, they sell.

However, the Gap is content light.  Sentences are placed over images like memes; but, there are very few words in text above or below page folds.  The Gap performs fairly well in search, but it’s likely that online conversions would improve with carefully-crafted content that adds value to the customers’ shopping experiences.

Overall, the common theme among these e-stores is to move your seasonal and most desirable products to the front. Incorporate the colors of the seasons, but stay true to your brand.  Place seasonal items on your homepage and tailor your images and content toward creating vibes that put shoppers in the mood for summer.

Don’t forget those whose experiences are enhanced beyond the layout, art, and images by the words they read.  Store content should educate the consumer, complement images, and describe the feel of the season.

Is your e-store prepared for summer shoppers?

~Stephanie & Jean

Other MWW Articles:

National Websites without Physical Stores Struggle to Rank

Guidelines for Writing E-Tail Category Content

Five Ways to Prepare Your E-Store for the Holidays

Nab These Call-to-Action Verbs

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Filed under Business Strategy, Content, Content Marketing, E-Tail Category Content, Favorite Websites, Local, Marketing, Merchandising, Mobile, SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

Seven Helpful Apps for Writers

by My Web WritersScreenshot

Everything it takes to be a writer is literally at your fingertips with mobile apps. Apps can be used to research, brainstorm, write, edit, read, many other things. It doesn’t matter if you’re a blogger, journalist, novelist, content writer, or someone who just likes to write for fun, we’ve found seven helpful apps for writers.

Writer

Quick! You have a great idea and need to jot it down immediately, before you forget. The Writer app is a simple app that allows you to keep track of your thoughts and ideas as you have them. It’s almost like carrying stickie notes on your phone. Writers know how quickly ideas can come, and they can just as quickly escape the mind. Writer is a great app to reach for when a great idea strikes, and even better, it’s free.

WordPress

If you’re not blogging… oh who are we kidding? Of course you’re blogging! Whether you’re using a blog as a journal, to jot down ideas, to share your opinions, or even if you just visit WordPress to read what others are writing, you know how important WordPress is. Use the app to do your own writings, check your blog stats and to read what others are writing.

Dictionary.com

Writers may think they know how to spell every word in the English language, but let’s face it, even the best writers can have trouble remembering how to spell certain words. Having a dictionary handy as an app is a great idea for all writers. Dictionary.com also provides a thesaurus. Imagine tons of synonyms at your fingertips while you write!

Quora

“Know more,” is the saying for this app. Use the powerful tool to do quick research, even with voice-enabled search. Quora is a question-answer app where multiple people can give insights on various topics. Use their insights to find the answers you’re looking for, or consider writing some answers of your own to help out others.

Pocket

Think about it. Who couldn’t use an extra pocket? This pocket, however, is on your phone or tablet. Pocket allows you to store articles, photos and more for later use. Keep all sorts of things you find on the internet for inspiration in one place… your Pocket!

Mindjet Maps

So many ideas, so difficult to organize! Your English teachers were on to something when they had you map out your essays and stories. Mindjet Maps helps you visually organize information. Organize your writing project with topics and subtopics. This is one of our favorite brainstorming apps.

Google Drive

If you’re a writer, it’s likely that you’re working on more than one project at a time. Google Drive, which now includes Google Docs, helps you keep all your files in one place. Access them and share them at any time with ease. You can even work on your projects offline, when an internet connection isn’t available.

There are hundreds of apps available that can make life easier if you’re a writer.  Do your research and see which apps work best for you. They can certainly make your life easier!  ~Natalie

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Filed under Apps & Tools, Mobile, Project Management

Quotes from 10 Writers about Web Writing

by My Web Writers

There are many quotes out there about writing. Great words spoken or written by Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf, Mark Twain and more are all over plaques and posters, but the art of web writing is young.  Still, some of the pros have made impactful statements about the world of web writing.

Quotes from 10 Writers about Web Writing:

“Good writing doesn’t just happen—at least not very often. Good writing is planned.” John B. Karls and Ronald Szymansky The Writer’s Handbook, 2nd Edition

“Having the right content in place, keeping it up-to-date, and removing content that is no longer relevant or timely ensures that the user community will find what they need.” JoAnn T. Hackos Content Management for Dynamic Web Delivery

“Good web text has a lot in common with good print text. It’s plain, concise, concrete and ‘transparent’: even on a personal site the text shouldn’t draw attention to itself, only to its subject.” Crawford Kilian Writing for the Web

“Together, we see the need for an overarching content strategy that coordinates written, video, and visual content pieces with social media that fully engage audiences and add to the knowledge graph.” Christina Zila Director of Communications, Textbroker

“The Web is like the Trojan Horse of information overload. It promised information nirvana and delivered overload hell.” Gerry McGovern and Rob Norton Content Critical

“As a rule of thumb, content should account for at least half of a page’s design, and preferably closer to 80 percent.” Jakob Nielsen, Designing Web Usability

“The more you know about your visitors, the better you can write for them.” Johnathon and Lisa Price Hot Text: Web Writing that Works

“If you’ve started a blog, and have it linked on your homepage, and you haven’t updated it for a few months, there’s a simple solution: take it down. You wouldn’t leave a half-finished display in your shop: why do it online?”  Jack Adams, copywriter

“Participating in the industry is not only a great way to network and build your personal brand, but it also exposes you to new ideas. Collaborate with industry peers on side projects. Attend conferences and meet-ups. Write and comment on articles. Do whatever you can to make a name for yourself and soak up as much knowledge as possible.” Adria Saracino, Head of Outreach, Distilled

“Get rid of half the words on each page, then get rid of half of what’s left.” Steve Krug, Don’t Make Me Think

~Natalie

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Filed under Blog Writing Tips, Content, E-Tail Category Content, Mobile, Product Descriptions, The Writing Process