Writing for choosing, not for confusing

Have you every been to a Cheesecake Factory?

If you haven't, the Cheesecake Factory is a chain of restaurants specializing in cheesecakes for dessert. The food is great, the atmosphere is pleasant, but the menu is honestly way too long.

How long?

The Cheesecake Factor menu offers more than 200 selections; that's everything from pizza, burgers, omelets, pasta, seafood, steaks, fish and chips, mini corn dogs, chicken enchiladas, and the list goes on. The menu is so long that they put ads between the pages. The menu is so long that I often lose my place. Worst of all, the menu is so long that everyone at the table becomes overwhelmed by the number of choices, and takes forever to order. 

On this phenomena, Columbia S.T. Lee Professor Sheena Iyengar makes the point at a recent TED talk, "The ninth biggest retailer in the world today is Aldi, and it offers you only 1,400 products [the average grocery store offers 45,000] -- and one kind of canned tomato sauce."

When people are offered too many choices, they freeze, get overwhelmed, and purchase less often. If you crowd your writing with too many links, or too many visuals, or too many characters, your readers will have a hard time to know where to put their focus. On the power of choice, less is more, and clarity is to key to conversion.

How to make choosing easier in your copywriting:
  1. Fewer links in your blog.
  2. Think about quality of benefits rather than quantity of benefits.
  3. Try to have one primary objective per page.
  4. Use more negative space in your writing to break up sections.
  5. Make your call to action short and simple. Copyblogger suggests 100 characters per line is optimal for speed and 45 characters is best for reader comfort.
  6. Use buttons that notably contrasts the rest of the page.
  7. Make sure visuals point to where you want your reader's eyes, and not everywhere else on the page.
  8. Offer incentives, but not too many incentives.
  9. Don't overuse rhetorical devices.
  10. Know why your readers choose your product, and focus your copy on nailing that point.
Or, if you also dabble in fiction writing:
  1. Fewer images
  2. Fewer characters
  3. Focus on fewer themes

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