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Good length for a product description

Am I being informative or just boring the visitor?

     
7:11 pm on Nov 3, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Hi,

I am in the process of rewriting all my product descriptions.

At the moment, my descriptions are approximately 200 words each, so about 3 paragraphs each.
(I do have a smaller description, about 15 words long, on the category page to give the visitors an insight before visiting the main description)

Am I being informative, or will I just be boring the visitor? Should I try to condense them into under 100 words?

I appreciate it may have affects on SEO and rankings, but they are useless if the potential client gets bored too quickly.

Thanks

2:20 am on Nov 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Just a casual observation . . . I think the more the better in a product description page. I've experienced problems with users reading one or two important lines of text when it's the only thing on a page, even when "forced" via a link. So the question is not how large it is, it's even if they read it at all.

Someone who is interested in reading will surely appreciate it. When I buy a new engine for my [widget], I want to know the displacement, how much horsepower it has, what the piston is made of, the tolerance specs, I'd love to see a power curve, compatibility with widget plugs, the type of widget clutch, . . .

So it's like a book. Some just look at the pictures (and in the case of language barriers, this is all that matters.) Someone can read the Cliff Notes (short description) and know all they need to know. But if they want to, it's good to have the full description there.

Often I get clients (site owners) saying, "no one's going to read all that, TAKE IT OFF!" So I do. But I don't have to agree with them.

2:50 am on Nov 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I think the more info the better. But that's just me. What I do for the ADD members of our society, is put a little table embedded inside the long description, which basically breaks it down to just the core details. So hopefully everybody is happy that way.
10:57 am on Nov 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Depends upon the product... if it is a *very* simple product understood by everybody without any explanation then you can get away with very few words. On the other hand if you've got a very information rich product then write the text as if the visitor has never heard of the product and include diagrams, feature lists, tons of photos the works. We've got product pages with 500-600 words on them.
11:32 am on Nov 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

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It depends on the product but could some of the descriptive text be tabulated instead? That would make it far easier for readers to focus on the detail that they are interested in.
5:20 am on Nov 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Depends on the product of course, but I'm a fan of long descriptions.

We start off with a photo and simple bullet point list of 4 or 5 key product attributes...the product in a nutshell.

But then we include up to 150 words of text that I write myself. I never use the brief descriptions from supplier catalogs... but most of our competitors do. Long, key word-rich descriptions help us rank high in search engines and impress our savviest customers.

----
Anyone remember Joe Sugarman, the founder of JS&A sales in the 70s/80s? His company was a very successful electronics cataloger. He was famous for writing all his own product descriptions, mostly very long ones.

Long descriptions are an easy, effective way to set your site apart.

9:26 pm on Nov 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Thanks a lot for all the advice.

I agree that descriptions should be of some length, however I was expecting some to disagree.

Thanks again

5:23 am on Nov 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Your product images will probably be doing most of the selling. Write your descriptions to read like they're describing the photo to a blind person.
 

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