7 reasons why your web content needs to work harder
Updated: Apr 26
Your website is one of the most powerful tools you have. Making every page look great is probably a top priority for you. It needs to be eye-catching. It needs to be user-friendly. It needs to be as snazzy as your competitors’ sites.
But designs are becoming increasingly similar. Your dazzling website isn’t enough.
Today’s consumers expect more from you than ever before, whether that’s finding out if they share your values or understanding exactly how your service will save them precious time.
And that’s all about using the right words.
This is good news for you. It means that an expensive web build might not be the key to increasing your visibility or building your brand. Revitalising the copy on your website could change everything for you.
Turn back the clock
Before we talk about web content in 2022, let’s go back a bit. (You can skip this part if you’re short on time).
In the early days of the internet, websites looked terrible. Really terrible. Here’s the first ever website:
It’s functional and provides information, but it’s not exactly engaging.
As time went on, businesses saw the value of having a website for attracting customers and clients. Still, they looked terrible – and slightly overwhelming.
Eventually, websites started to look better, and brands had more flexibility to design a website that served its purpose and looked good.
To see how websites have evolved, take a look at Amazon over the years.
Back to 2022
Here’s the thing – we’ve reached a point where all websites look the same. Or very similar. In 2022…
They’re clean. Lemonade’s website is great.
They’re scrollable – we love this one from Unleashed.
They’re easy to use. The Chase website is super straightforward.
So, what’s the problem?
It’s great for users – they can quickly navigate sites, and everything is visually pleasing. But that’s what people expect. There’s no place for glitchy sites in 2022.
Also, things change. Just like fashion trends, the idea of what makes a great website shifts as the years go by. Sooner or later your new website is going to look outdated.
Ultimately, people won’t remember your design, but the things you say will stick.
Our solution: invest in your copy to make a lasting impact.
The power of copy
We often see amazing websites where all the budget has gone on the build, but the copy lets them down. It’s mediocre at best.
It’s the quality of the content that differentiates one brand from another. Design attracts, but copy is what keeps people on the page.
There are many reasons why copy is the best value brand-building asset. Here are just a few:
1. Copy complements visuals
We love projects where we talk to the designers. The end product is always so much better. It means we don’t just fill boxes but can make the most of their design and all it has to offer.
Lonely Planet is an excellent example. You might think they wouldn’t need good copy – surely the visuals alone are enough? Think again. Their copy adds that extra layer of persuasion and ignites the readers’ imaginations:
Gigantic aquamarine waves provide the backdrop and pulsating rhythm to any visit to Mexico's central Pacific coast, a land of stunning beaches and giant sunsets. You can indulge in all the tropical clichés here: eating sublime seafood under simple palm-frond roofs, drinking chilled coconut water while lounging in a hammock, and enjoying poolside cocktails at an upmarket resort. The nightlife is great and there's a beach for everyone, whether you prefer yours backed by high-rise hotels or tumbledown cabins.
Apple take a similar approach. Of course, there are plenty of photos of the latest iPhone, but there is also brilliant copy packed with benefits.
2. Copy makes the boring brilliant
You could take it to the extreme like Dead Happy, an insurance company. They take a very flippant approach to death and arranging your affairs. Not sure I’d describe it as brilliant, but they are breaking the mould, and it certainly makes their web content stand out from their competitors.
We’ve written a whole blog post on microcopy with plenty more examples of how to turn boring into brilliant. Read it here.
3. Copy breaks down barriers
Making your website accessible isn’t just about design. It’s also about the language you use and checking it’s suitable for your audience. Writing with their age, their background, and perceptions of the world in mind can make all the difference.
Eureka! The National Children’s Museum know what children (or their parents) might think about museums and break barriers down from the get-go.
‘We’re not like other museums’ is a bold statement to make, but their copy explains why.
Similarly, the Samaritan’s website addresses a tough issue gently. The language is simple and reassuring. It also justifies the readers' feelings.
Be Gamble Aware write in the first person to reflect what people might be experiencing. It also removes any blame and feelings of guilt.
4. Copy explains
A picture may well be worth a thousand words, but a few words on the side can make all the difference. This applies to products and services too. Your design can do a brilliant job of showing features, but your audience is on the hunt for benefits.
Monzo is a brilliant example of design that shows the reader what the app is for and copy explains how it works.
Copy also explains to engage audiences too. Innocent have a reputation for their cheeky comments and snappy social, but they’re also good at explaining their initiatives too. Rewilding is a term that is starting to crop up – and they acknowledge that.
This example from Childline shows the importance of clear copy and explaining something in a way that is suitable for the audience. To an adult, being safe seems like a straightforward concept, whereas a young person might need some more help understanding their situation and whether they are in danger or not.
5. Copy creates connections
Design can produce that initial ‘wow’, but words have the power to make people feel something on a deeper level.
In this ad from Save The Children, the picture is touching but it's Meera’s story that pulls at our heartstrings. It creates empathy. Possibly even guilt. The emotions that trigger us to think about donating.
However, it can be much more subtle.
I love Loop. I think their product is great and their website does an amazing job at selling it. This snippet is the perfect example.
It made me feel understood. They understand my struggle and are offering a brilliant solution.
6. Copy initiates action
Buttons are just part of design, right? Wrong. That small bit of copy can make all the difference. Just read the story about The $300 Million Button.
I love what Mailchimp have done here. ‘Sign up’ is what you’d expect to see. However, providing another option for people who aren’t quite ready seems like a great way to keep them on the site. ‘Compare plans’ gives them the opportunity to gather the information they need to make a decision.
Thinking about how the copy and button work together is important too. Aerotime ramp up the energy and make the reader feel motivated before encouraging them to give their platform a go.
For more insight, read our post 7 ways to initiate action.
7. Words define
You need people to recognise your product on the shelf, to know your logo, to see a certain colour and think of your brand.
But the words a company uses are what gives the brand enduring value. The design may change but great web copy lives on.
Nike’s microsite about their purpose is the perfect example. Many people globally will instantly recognise their slick tick and often think of their catchy slogan. But it’s their words that show what they stand for.
But it doesn’t have to be as bold as Nike.
Sports clothing retailer Wiggle are all about performance and practicality like Nike, but they’re also about a community of people. The normal folk that you see at park run.
Top visuals are important for selling products, but making people feel part of something with the words you use is just as important.
Not sure where to start?
If you’ve got this far, well done. Maybe it’s left you wondering whether your copy needs an overhaul.
Of course, picking random pages and rewriting them probably isn’t the best approach. After all, it’s probably the pages you’ve forgotten about that need the most work.
We suggest carrying out an audit to decide your next steps. Don’t have time? Let us help you.