Planning a new custom website or revitalizing an old one is a collaborative process among clients, copywriters and web designers. Clients usually have ideas for how they want their websites to appear. Messaging, functions and inspiration from other sites may get the creative juices flowing.
But what happens when the rubber meets the road? After we’ve determined the general scope and feel (sitemap and creative brief) of the website we’re aiming to create, how does it come to fruition? How does the content creation process begin and how do all these elements come together?
Website Design Starts with a Plan
With the OC Team, the bulk of the creative process begins with copywriting. Copywriting is different from other types of writing. Copywriting isn’t only about telling a story, like fiction. It’s not solely about selling products and services, either. Copywriting’s purpose isn’t to go on and on about how great a product, service or brand is.
A copywriter’s words are designed to show customers how they benefit. Part storytelling and part advertising, copywriting convinces readers they need a company’s product or service, not because of all its wonderful features, but because of how those features make their world better in some way.
The company whose website is being created isn’t the writing’s focus. The people who will read the content – their customers – are the focus.
During the developmental stage of crafting a new website, copywriting provides a roadmap for designers to follow. On a highly graphical website, it’s possible that only a few words from the initial copywriting remain on the final page. These words are the directions that ensure every important aspect is accounted for, whether it’s through language or imagery and graphical representations.
Copywriting Must Work Hard, But It Can’t Do It Alone
Writing website content is a strategic process. A website’s words are workhorses chosen for their strength to perform functions that help a business succeed, such as their ability to:
- Make a great impression and/or connect with readers emotionally
- Convey authority by educating and informing readers
- Influence buyers and/or compel readers to take action
Yet, as compelling as a copywriter’s words are, building great websites is not simply a matter of writing great copy. If it were that easy, any clever writer could throw together a few paragraphs, toss them online, and start raking in visitors.
Copywriting Needs Great Design
Copywriting needs great design elements to carry it through the online world. Web design uses elements such as fonts, colors, contrast and spatial arrangements to captivate audiences and elicit emotion. Photos, animation and videos help site visitors navigate a website and encourage engagement with content.
We can look to the songwriting process to see how copywriting is aided by elements of design on a website to reach their fullest potential.
A songwriter comes up with meaningful lyrics. A guitarist adds a great guitar riff and brings in an upbeat power chord. Suddenly, we’ve got emotional context – passion, excitement, joy. A drummer pounds out a rhythmic, interesting beat that gives it structure and consistency. These artful combinations blend with and enhance the lyrics to create a catchy song that appeals to many listeners who enjoy it again and again.
It’s possible, of course, for musicians to come up with guitar riffs and drum beats before a song’s lyrics are written. In the same way, designers may know the colors and general look a website will take before a copywriter starts to write.
But nothing materializes on the websites we build until after the words are written. Writing a website’s copy is the start of creating the beautiful site we imagined from the start.
The Importance of Attractive Web Design
Without guitar chords and drum beats to carry the lyrics into the ears, hearts and minds of listeners, song lyrics are just flat words on a page. They don’t carry the full impact and power of music. Copywriting also goes nowhere without effective design techniques to attract and hold readers’ attention, provide context, and evoke emotion.
People judge the credibility of a website based on its design before they even read its content. Research shows that people are turned off by poor design elements such as overly complex layouts, small print, and lack of color. Bad design can turn prospective customers away long before words have a chance to influence their perceptions.
Consumers expect to find attractive design elements on websites and will leave sites that disappoint them.
- 59% of consumers would rather engage with content that’s beautifully designed rather than simple, even when they have only 15 minutes to spare.
- 65% of consumers rank display as the most important aspect when it comes to content in their personal life
- 54% list overall good design such as an appealing layout and photography as important
(Source: Adobe, The State of Content Report)
With these numbers in mind, it’s easy to see how critical it is to marry well-written content with attractive visual design.
Web designers work to ensure site visitors can easily access information throughout all parts of a website. They design straightforward menus and easy-to-understand icons that aid site visitors in discovering new information. Web designers create an intuitive user experience that not only looks great but also acts as a conduit for a business to show readers the benefits it offers.
Copywriting and Design Blend Harmoniously
The whole process is completed with a specific audience in mind – our clients’ customers. We speak to their pain points, their concerns, the issues that matter in their lives, and we do it in a way they can connect with and enjoy.
Copywriting expresses the value a business brings to the table. The words on a web page clearly communicate the advantages a product or service brings to the reader. Meanwhile, web design visually expresses who a business is. The visual layout and imagery convey personality and style while they also establish credibility.
Images and words come together in a powerful display that compels site visitors toward action, whether it may be to click, download, share, contact, buy or anything else. When done well, all the elements of good copywriting and excellent design blend harmoniously to make a website sing.