Why words still matter

Posted on by Guy Cookson

There is a lot to consider when planning a new website. So it is not surprising that the written content can sometimes be neglected.

With decisions to be made about the content management system, user experience, search engine optimisation, hosting, and a thousand and one other important factors, the copy can get pushed to the back of the queue.

After all, writing a few words about your business seems straightforward enough. And there is usually some content that can be used as a starting point, perhaps from an existing website or brochure – so how hard can it be?

As websites have become more visual, with edge to edge photography and video, and beautiful high definition graphics, there can be a temptation to think that the words do not really matter anyway.

But that would be a mistake. While it is true that the overall design may first draw the eye, and help to establish trust, it is the words on the page that must ultimately persuade.

There are a few simple rules of thumb to follow if your words are to incite action.

The most important of these is to remember that readers are not interested in your brand; they are interested in themselves.

This is why it is so important to clearly articulate your customer value proposition – and to clearly explain the benefits you offer.

Explain how you will solve your customers’ problems, and address their needs, and you have a good chance of winning their attention.

It is not only what you say, but how you say it that matters. At Hotfoot, we develop a tone of voice for clients so they can develop a recognisable character and communicate consistently.

But my favourite piece of advice is to be concise.

Mark Twain once joked, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”

The web is full of distractions. Anyone reading your website is almost certainly also resisting the urge to check their inbox or social media notifications. So respect your audience and get to the point.

And that seems like a good place to finish, too.

A version of this article was published as part of a weekly column on marketing, design, trends and strategy in the Lancaster Guardian, Blackpool Gazette and Lancashire Post.

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