Start With Copy Instead of Design

black text on white ceramic block, green aloe plant in small white and pink pot
Write without fear. Edit without mercy.

The idea is that copy (and the message you’re trying to convey through that copy) should dictate design – not the other way around. Now, this is in no way meant to underestimate the importance of design. Design can breathe life into the story the copy is telling, and done properly, great copy plus great design will always outperform great copy alone.

Great design without quality copywriting is a waste of your design investment.  If you’re serious about online success, don’t put half-baked, slip-shod homemade copywriting on your website – professional (or at least thoughtful, methodical, collaborative, and proofread) copywriting will give you a much better chance to maximize your website’s effectiveness.

Good website copy creates a conversation with your customers and/or supporters about what their life will be like when you’ve met their needs. It’s critical that you understand what those needs are before you start writing the copy for your site so that your conversation will be all about them, not you.

How Do You Write Content for a Website?

Step 1: Determine the Purpose of the Website

Step 2: Research the Audience

Step 3: Research Competing Websites

Step 4: Plan How the Content Fits Together on Your Website

Step 5: Write the Content for Each Page (more tips on this in the next list!)

Step 6: Add Non-Copy Page Elements

Step 7: Make Edits

Step 8: Optimize the Page for SEO

Step 9: Plan to Update Content Later

Copywriting Best Practices to Keep Handy:

If you’re new to copywriting, there are a few important best practices you’ll need to keep in mind that can not only help you keep copy on track, but also equip your website with the information it needs to be that 24/7 salesperson you know it can be. In short, if you bring it back to the audience and their experience, you’ll always get it right.

Step 1: Identify the Audience

Step 2: Create Clear Headlines that Are Concise and Enticing

Step 3: Avoid Using Negatives Where Possible

Step 4: Choose Active Voice over Passive Voice (Although there are Always Exceptions to this Rule)

Step 5: Talk about Them More than Yourself

Step 6: Relate to Their Experiences and Appeal to Their Emotions.

Step 7: Speak Their Language

Step 8: Focus on the ‘Benefits’ first, then the ‘Features’

Step 9: Trim the (Content) Fat Where Possible

Step 10: Use Hyperlinks within the Copy to make it Easier for Users to Navigate

Step 11: Use Verbs and Multiple Words in your Calls to Action

Is Copywriting More Important Than Website Design?

Copywriting is more important than design. You won’t hear many designers say that! If you have an amazing design and poor copy, the site won’t convert anywhere near as well as having awesome copy and poor design. However if you add awesome design to amazing copy, you will have the best chance of conversions, i.e. sales, leads, sign-ups, in person visits, donations, etc.

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