How Design Should Enhance Your Copy
GOOD WEB DESIGN ENHANCES THE CONTENT OF A PAGE.
As a webmaster, at the helm of a website, you’re on your own with copywriting for the web. You don’t have a marketing and design department working together to build your website and it’s content. That burden falls upon you and anyone with whom you decide to work with.
This makes it absolutely necessary for you to understand copywriting (mixed with a sufficient knowledge of web design).
Your web design needs to capture the essence of what your website is about, meaning if it’s a dating blog for women you should have some idea as to what kind of design and colors will appeal to your ideal user (i.e. single women).
1) Design with one purpose per page in mind
Each page should be crafted with a call to action. These actions, depending on what kind of site you have, will entail your visitor either sharing your content, buying your products, clicking ads or subscribing to your website.
Building content driven websites, content is always the focus as without content, design is simply decoration. A one page one purpose mentality helps to focus ones attention on the essentials of the design. To enhance the message of the website, and to enhance it’s content and products…not the other way around.
What you can specifically do
Take a look at successful competitors in the space you’re wanting to enter. What similarities do you notice in regards to colors and navigation? What similarities are there with the logo design? What do you think the ideal user expects from a website in xyz market?
You want to differentiate yourself in regards to your selling point, so the dating advice site for women market as an example, use a design and color scheme one would expect from such a website… NOT what you in particular like. Then drive home your content by making your tag-line and published content meet your unique selling point again and again.
2) Why would they NOT want to use your website?
Write your content in a text editor with no distractions so you can focus on the message of the website. Who is your target audience? Who are you seeking to appeal to with your words? Why would they object to the website and how can your design help minimize this? You don’t want to take a website you like from another market, say personal development or some lifestyle design website and apply that design to your dating blog or finance website. This is a mistake new webmasters make because you’re simply wire-framing someone else’s design and simply giving it a new coat of paint. “I want a design similar to ____.com” >>The winning design now becomes an inappropriate mess.
Instead of saying that you want your personal finance website or dating blog to look like another website in an unrelated market; take a look at the websites in your market, meet your users expectations, differentiate yourself based on your selling point and use your answers to the question of who is your target audience, what is the message and selling point of the site and why would any visitor object to the website as a foundation to design your website.
3) Functions over features
In addition to the one page one goal concept, also incorporate the functions over features concept too. Web design that is effective is one that focuses on the essentials in the beginning to help you achieve your online goals. You can get more complicated later after you have web traffic, an email list, products, and a lot of published content. At the very beginning though, you have none of this so only have features that serve some purpose, not because they look cool or that people may use them. But because they look good and have a purpose.
So no, don’t add a forum, or a tool bar, or AdSense until you build your website out in regards to the amount of content as well as the traffic.
People see a website
I paid $1,000 for a professional design for a website I had bought because I was certain it would pay off in the long run. It didn’t… BECAUSE the content was not up to par. Lesson learned is this: Design is critical in supporting the message of a website, but poor content can’t be saved by a pretty design. This is because people see a website. They don’t see the design and the published content as two separate things. Both of these two elements combined make for the end user experience for your website. One that is either engaging or one that is a turn off.
So both elements are important, you can not neglect one or the other. But content comes first.
4) Don’t be cute with your copy, be specific and targeted:
Is it obvious as to what is going on in the picture? Do you see how the design helps the copy? How the design helps enhance the written words. Let’s notice a few other things.
Look at the word choices: “Start accepting credit cards today”.
How does this phrase make you as a reader feel? Does this offering seem technical or complicated? No. It’s specific, but more important, it’s about you. Particularly if you’re a vendor selling products. Why? BECAUSE:
“Clearer and more specific subject lines convert better.” – Bob Kemper
Instead of telling people what you do, just get to how it benefits them and what your credentials are. So for your website it’s not effective to say we do this or we’re about that. Instead just get to the features and benefits that your website provides for your right people.
5) People also don’t read – Make Your Content Scannable
Most of your website traffic will skim your web page. They won’t actually read it word for word. This is because they’re not vested in your online work and want to be cautious before spending time on something that is of low quality or irrelevant.
This has other implication too. Since most people don’t read (79%), you need to make your web page scannable. You do this by having large fonts, pictures, and breaking up what you write into paragraphs with clear titles. Otherwise, people won’t read and will leave if you present them with a massive wall of text.
Now what about the other 21%?
They read everything.
So a few things. If they are hitting a sales page or a landing page give them as much specific information they need in order for them to make a decision, and be mindful of every word you use (keeping to features and benefits).
Of course, this only applies if your traffic is targeted. That is, you are getting visitors who are interested in what it is your website is about. Getting shared on social media while helpful for long term growth and for diversifying traffic streams, is not the best in terms of targeted traffic.
Visitors by way of a search engine or an ad campaign you’re running is a different story as they are finding a website with content they are looking for.
Copywriting for the web design for your homepage
Your homepage depends on what your website is about. You should have a homepage, even if you’re starting a blog. Key features should include a call to action for your email list, an introduction to what the website is about (not by telling people what the website is about but by giving the benefits of using your website). This introduction should be a short specific 1-2 sentence.
There is no one right way to go about copywriting for the web.
There are plenty of formulas to follow as well as best practices too. But writing copy, as with most things is a skill that needs time to develop. To become a better copywriter you simply need to write a lot, read a lot, and track your web pages effectiveness as well as invest in courses and books to teach you the things you don’t know.
The best copy does not trick or manipulate people. It does not use physiological techniques to induce impulse buys. The best copy sells the features and benefits of your offer using the words you target audience uses. It provides full information and full transparency, making it clear to anyone reading if it’s right for them. Your design enhances all this. Supporting your message and connecting visually with your right people.