When it comes to creating or re-designing your business website, what should you invest in? Should you pay to have your website professionally designed and branded? Should you hire a copywriter to write all your copy? What should you do first? Ideally, you should do both and at the same time. In a perfect world, your web designer and your copywriter would work together to create the best possible website for your business. One that appeals and ‘speaks to’ your ideal clients. One that makes what you sell and how you can help perfectly clear. So how exactly can content and design work together on your website? And what part do they play in the success of your business?
The role of design on your website
Help web users read the copy
From my perspective as a Content Writer, design is what helps users actually read the copy. I can write the best copy in the world for my clients, but if their web visitors can’t see it because it doesn’t stand out, they’ll never read it! And if no one reads it, it won’t get my clients any results. If you ask me, no amount of good copy can help you sell your product or services if no one sees it.
So if a client has an existing website that they manage, I always invite them to think about these aspects:
- Are the fonts legible or hard to read?
- Does the writing stand out from the background? And when used over images, can you read it easily?
- Is the text in the right sections of the page? Or do people have to scroll and click to go and find it? (Spoiler alert – if they do have to scroll and click to find your best copy, there’s a high chance they’ll never actually see it!).
- Do the graphic elements, images, and the page layout help highlight the text?
Set the scene and the tone
What I think design can do really well for your website is to set the scene and the tone for your business. Your web visitors may have not even read a single line of your copy yet, but they can form an instant impression of your brand and what you stand for. You can set the scene and the tone incredibly well with your logo, your choice of colours, the graphic elements, and the patterns that you use. So make sure you invest in a professional service that will help you get this 100% right!
What you don’t want to do is to create a disconnect between what you say you do (through your copy) and what the colours, fonts, or illustrations suggest you do. If that happens, you just won’t have the same impact on your prospective clients.
What’s the role of content on your website?
For the purpose of this post, I’ve used the words ‘copy’ and ‘content’ interchangeably to mean the words (or the writing) that you publish on your website. Whether you do the writing yourself or you hire a professional, your writing is there for a few reasons:
- To sell.
- To attract your ideal customers and clients – to pull them in, show them you care, and to say things that they can relate to.
- But also to show your experience, expertise, and knowledge, so that your ideal clients can start to see you as a safe pair of hands. In other words, it’s there to build trust and prove that you can deliver results and solve specific problems.
Doing all this with words isn’t easy! Often my clients come to me saying they feel they have all the information in their heads, but somehow they just can’t seem to be able to organise it on the page in a way that’s clear and compelling. Copywriting is an art and a science, and if you started a business because you’re great at what you do, it doesn’t mean that you’re equally as great at putting it into words. So if you’ve tried doing it and felt the results weren’t as good as what you would have liked them to be, please don’t be too hard on yourself! Writing copy that hits all the sweet spots with your prospective clients and ticks all the above criteria isn’t easy.
How can you get content and design to work together?
You’ll achieve the best results on your website if your design and your content work together and nicely support and complement each other.
As I said, no amount of good copy will help you sell a single product if your website design and layout don’t help that copy to stand out.
And equally, great design can give an amazing first impression to your website visitors, but if the copy is poor and doesn’t clearly explain what you do and how you help, your web visitors will quickly go elsewhere.
So how can you get your copy and design to work together?
1. Hire a designer AND a copywriter
You just don’t want to be in a situation where you create a big disconnect between what people see when they come to your website and what you say in the form of what you write and publish.
So if your budget allows it, don’t just invest in one and not the other. Hire a website designer AND a copywriter who ideally already know each other and have collaborated on other projects. You want people who are on the same wave length and will work well together, so you can brief them both at once, for example, and they can work together to deliver the best results for you.
2. Focus on your ideal clients
Ultimately the reason why you have a website in the first place is to attract the type of customers and clients you want to sell to. Your website is your online shop.
So let’s think about brick-and-mortar shops, for example. The shop window is designed to stop people walking by and to pull them in. On your website, your home page is essentially your shop window. And no, you don’t have mannequins, props, or sample products to work with here, but you do have other very important elements.
You have visual element, like a logo, photos, illustrations, banners, graphic elements, etc. And then you have words. So be super-clear on who you’re trying to pull into your shop to invite them to come and do business with you, and be intentional in using all these elements together to stop your ideal client in their tracks and come and check the rest of your website out.
3. Set a clear tone of voice
What kind of feelings and emotions does the branding on your website evoke? What’s the ‘look and feel’ of your website? And what kind of mood are you trying to set? Is your brand mellow and melancholic? Or is fast-paced and energetic? As a business, are you super-formal and corporate or quite informal, personable, and approachable?
Whatever you are, you need to show this. Choose the characteristics you want to portray with your branding and your design, and support those by using a tone of voice that’s in line with that. So if you, as a brand and a business, are serious and corporate, choose words that reflect that. If you’re informal and fun, don’t use big corporate jargon.
Here a few things to get you thinking:
- Do have specific values and beliefs that you want to communicate to your audience?
- What emotions does your brand want to evoke?
- What are the key messages, the ‘pillars’ if you like, that your business stands for?
Be clear on what these are and find ways to translate that into both your visual branding AND the words and the language you choose. Everything, from your strapline to the blog posts you publish on your website has to support that same tone of voice.
Outsourcing your branding and copywriting
If you feel you can’t achieve all of the above by yourself, hire professionals who can help. A well-branded website that shows consistency and a strong synergy between the visual elements and the writing will work a lot better for your business than something you’ve put together in a hurry without giving it much thought.
By working with professionals you’ll be able to focus on the right aspects and be really focused and targeted in creating a shop-front that will bring more of your ideal customers through your door. In other words, it’s an investment that will bring you great return (and one you won’t regret!).
This post was contributed by Sara Bussandri, who is a Digital Content Writer and non-fiction author who specialises in helping small business owners with blogging and re-purposing podcast episodes into standalone blog posts. She’s a mum of three boys who works around school runs, laundry loads, and football matches. You can find out more about Sara on her website, or connect with her on LinkedIn, Instagram, or Facebook.