Alison Smith, Director, Be Content
We are living in a visual-first web culture, where users increasingly want to see – rather than read – information in the form of images, videos and animations. For companies that trade heavily on aesthetics, this is especially true, and there is the potential to create beautiful websites that set a mood and showcase products and services in ways that powerfully enhance a firm’s brand image. In this image-driven context, what job do the words have to do?
The answer is, a very important one. Working in tandem with visual design, good website copy is crucial in aiding the user on their journey towards a decision to buy or enquire. A website can look amazing, but if visitors can’t find the information they are looking for at the right point, they won’t hang around to search for it. And there are times when, amid all the showing, you need to tell. A skilled copywriter can deliver key information in carefully crafted packages that add to the pleasure and appeal of the web experience. Product specifications, service descriptions, biographies, company history; a good copywriter will see all these as opportunities to add more value using their precision and creativity. Calls to action are approached as precious openings to convert all the hard work done by the design and development team into live leads.
Preparation is key
To get the best results, your copywriter needs an effective research phase before they start creating your website materials. They will need to work in consultation with a senior member of your team to find out the aims and intentions of the project and the brand. If you have conducted user research or built customer profiles, these are invaluable resources for the writer to draw on. If you haven’t, start with a face-to-face meeting (Skype, if you need to) when your copywriter can ask questions about the project and start to get up to speed with your company culture, offering and target audience.
Correct and Pitch Perfect
Of course, anyone in an image-driven business knows that poor grammar, punctuation and spelling are absolute no-nos. Your copywriter needs to have an eagle eye for errors, and know how to construct sentences that flow and paragraphs that hang well together. But as well as being grammatically correct, the words have to sound right to your specific target audience. This is why you need a writer who ‘gets’ your brand tone of voice and stays in the zone while they create your website copy. To find someone who will be able to sing in tune, set them a writing test as part of the pitch, with information on the target audience and copy specifications. Then see if what comes back resonates with your vision for the company.
At what stage should you get the writer involved?
The best copywriters and content designers will be creative not just with a turn of phrase, or the structure of a web page, but with the shape of the information as the customer moves through the online experience. They will work with a sense of your website evolving after launch, for example, to furnish social media channels and showcase new products. If you choose to get your copywriter on board early on in the design process, they can help shape your content strategy, providing valuable insights that pay dividends in the long run. But a professional copywriter will also be able to come in once your website structure has been worked out, and use their experience and intuition to make every word count in the given spaces.
Elegant design cultivates trust in potential clients
The big picture to bear in mind when choosing a company to help implement your marketing collateral is that it should have an overall positive impact on your business. The work produced should allow you to feel confident in marketing your company, in the knowledge that when a potential customer engages with you, they will be impressed enough to consider doing business with you. Elegant marketing collateral that conveys your brand values has the power to cultivate trust and turn a vaguely interested party into a valued client.
Make the most of your investment
Finally, once you have your shiny new website launched, with the words carefully tailored to vibe with the design and press your audience’s buttons, keep up the good work! Ask your copywriter to share what they have learnt and implemented in the course of the project with any other parties who will be updating the website, or social media. The writer can help you refine, update or create brand tone of voice and editorial style guides, homing in on your target audience and pinning down your copy conventions going forward. Draw all the strings together to get your copy and design working in sweet harmony.
This blog was written for Doublard Design, an agency that specialises in delivering elegant, sophisticated web and print solutions for the high end of the interior design industry.