In my experience as a web designer, I have seen one element consistently overlooked across the greater majority of websites. Namely, quality copy.
I have seen beautiful, elegantly designed websites ruined by bland or ineffective copy. I have seen e-commerce sites whose sales funnel is sabotaged by unclear or confusing verbiage. I have witnessed poor wording turn an otherwise fantastic site into a train-wreck.
While poor copy is never excusable, the fact that it is so prevalent online speaks to the nature of the medium. Websites are incredibly visual products, packed with images, photos, graphic interfaces, and custom design elements. Many web developers, and the companies they service, are so hyper-focused on the ‘look’ of their site that they neglect to polish the ‘voice’ of the site.
While good, compelling, and properly structured copy affords many benefits, there are a few of exceptional importance that I have highlighted below.
Quality Copy Establishes the ‘Tone’ of Your Company/Brand
Ask yourself a few questions. Is your company more personable or professional? Do you value efficiency over engagement? Are you funny, compassionate, or sternly austere?
Now ask yourself another question; does the copy of your website speak to these characteristics? The wording of your website goes a long way toward establishing the ‘tone’ or ‘voice’ of your brand or company. A law firm whose web copy is full of jokes and word-play is woefully off message. Likewise, a party rental company whose web copy is stiff and overly professional is presenting an image that is contradictory to the service they offer.
There is no universal right or wrong way to write web copy. Every company, organization, and brand is a unique entity with a unique personality. When writing copy for your website, be sure to pay special attention to the ‘tone’ your words are setting.
Error Free Copy Speaks to Professionalism
Have you ever seen a grammatical error on a website? Or, god forbid, a spelling mistake? If not, just look harder; they’re everywhere!
As a web developer, spelling and grammar mistakes on websites cause me to physically cringe. While the average consumer’s reaction will likely be less severe, a website with error filled copy is sure to turn customers off of your brand. Think about it; how comfortable would you feel ordering a product or service from a company that can’t even be bothered to proofread their work?
Always, always, always double, triple, and quadruple check your copy for any mistakes. A little extra proofing in the design phase can potentially save you a ton of embarrassment and lost business in the long run.
Quality Copy Makes Information Accessible
As a company, you have a lot to say to potential customers. Unfortunately, potential customers don’t have a lot of time to listen. Modern consumers are busier and more distracted than ever before. Between work, family, and the endlessly diverting nature of the internet (just one more ‘LolCat’ and I’ll get back to work, I swear!), it can be hard to simply ‘get your message across’ to potential customers.
Good copy writing can make your message more digestible for web visitors. The average time spent on a web page is a paltry 15 seconds. That’s not much time to make an impact. Web copy must be succinctly worded and cleverly structured in such a way that can be absorbed in 15 seconds, or so compelling that is coaxes visitors to spend more time on your site.
Accessibility is the name of the game when it comes to effective web copy, and you need to make it a top priority if you want to engage guests.
Copy Closes Deals, Makes Money
Copy is instrumental to making sales and closing deals online. In fact, with the right sales messages and a properly constructed sales funnel, your website can be the best salesman you have.
Where many sites go wrong is relying too heavily on photos and images to make sales. While an image or photo can provide a strong visual incentive to entice purchases, they only represent a portion of an overall sales message. Well written sales copy speaks to the benefits of a product or service, differentiates it from other similar products or services, and reveals unique characteristics that cannot be visually represented.
An e-commerce site that relies entirely on visuals is merely offering a product or service. Copy is the function that actively sells a product or service.
Quality copy is at the very core of effective web design. You can pack a site with more visual design tricks and graphical flair than a Michael Bay action flick and still end up with a dud if you don’t put enough time and effort into developing your copy. Remember, your website is your platform, your outlet to connect and communicate with current and potential customers.
So ask yourself; is your site’s copy sending the right message?