Tone of voice
An organisation’s tone of voice shows who they are through what they write, and represents their values and personality.
A consistent tone of voice helps to build trust, respect and recognition, whereas a mixture can cause doubt and confusion.
Our tone of voice supports the website look and feel of approachable, beneficial and capable.
We’re not trying to be friends with our customers, but our website needs to be customer focused and easy for everyone to understand.
Being direct, straightforward and using plain English are the main ways to create approachable content.
Address the customer personally.
Customers need to know we’re speaking to them, so use ‘you’ instead of general terms such as ‘residents’ or ‘visitors’.
Also, tell customers exactly what they need to do, rather than using terms like ‘please note’.
Everything we say online needs to be simple and straightforward.
Approach everything in the same way, whether it’s a simple process or a contentious issue, to make it easier for customers.
Use plain English
Use the terms that customers use and understand.
If customers recognise the language we’re using, it shows we’re focussed on them and it also makes the content easier for them to understand.
If jargon or technical language is necessary, explain what it means.
Consider customer needs when you plan your content.
Think about the transaction of your content, and what the customer needs to know to complete that transaction.
Use verbs in your titles and buttons.
Using verbs makes the transaction clear so customers know exactly what to expect.
It also helps when customers search on Google or on the website, as it matches the terms they are using.
Everything on the website needs to add value.
Only include what the customer needs to know, and what will help them with their transaction.
For example, images take a long time to load on mobile devices and use up data, so generic images do not add value. An image that clarifies a process for example, does add value.
Take responsibility ownership of the content, no matter what it’s about.
Use ‘we’, rather than ‘the Council’. This helps to build trust and shows that we are not a faceless organisation.
Use the active voice instead of the passive voice, which will ensure we take responsibility.
Have confidence in your content, no matter what it’s about.
It’s easier for customers if they know where they stand and what to expect.
Follow the ABC Guidelines.
It’s confusing for the customer if the website is different between sections, even though we are one organisation.