Words and Pictures, Wrapped in Design
By Cal Sherry On April 1, 2019 - Branding & Graphic Design, Digital Marketing, News, Process, Web Design
Essentially that’s what a website is (at least on the customer-facing side). Yet this isn’t always reflected in the way businesses think about a new website build or rebrand.
We often find that websites are thought about from a purely design perspective. The client’s marketing team are really interested in how the new site will look, what imagery will be used, what colour schemes and fonts would look best together and how the pages will be laid out.
While this is all important stuff, when it comes to the written content on the site, there is often much less interest. Businesses often have a ‘lift and shift’ mentality. This would be fine if the existing content had been fully audited and the business is 100% confident about their wording but, more often than not, it’s just that the idea of looking at written content hadn’t really cropped up.
This tendency to be biased towards imagery is reinforced when a designer-led marketing team is in charge of the discussions.
Connecting the Dots
The above isn’t really surprising when you look at the relative purposes of visuals and writing.
The visuals are there to attract attention and to make an initial impression. These goals require non-verbal communication because the parts of the brain that respond to visual cues are way faster than the parts that process written language.
However, once your visitor’s attention has been captured and they are engaging with a website, it is the words that keep them there or direct them towards the next step the site owner wants them to take (OK, video content is an exception but few websites have completely done away with writing).
A good test of this is to simply visit any website (including your own) and ask yourself, ‘now what do I do?’
It is then that you might notice all those imperatives shouting at you: ‘Shop. Get. Buy. Subscribe. Learn more. Visit, etc.’ These commands will often be accompanied by text explaining why you should obey. This text can be a few words or an essay but the important thing is that it’s there for a reason – and if it wasn’t, you would be a lot less likely to do anything apart from window shop.
So, if you’re working with a website agency, you need to consider the writing alongside your visuals and give each equal weight.
Your Website and your Brand
So if you’re now thinking, ‘what should I be saying?’, ‘what tone should I be using?’ and even ‘what do I want my customers to do?’ then that’s good because we are really getting into a branding conversation. We are getting to hear your story.
And it is within your story that your success really lies!
When people think about branding they often associate this with a logo or a business letterhead. Writing only figures in their thoughts in terms of slogans: ‘Just Do It..,’ ‘Every Little Helps,’ etc.
In reality, everything your business does is part of its brand. And written content is one of the few elements of brand that a business has any control over.
Whatever you want to say, the writing on your website should contribute to your brand consistency. For example, if your business is related to professional services such as law, insurance or accountancy, your design and writing would normally both be fairly formal with attention to spelling and grammar.
For less traditional businesses, you can usually be more relaxed and use humour and colloquial terms in your writing. The most important thing is that the design and the writing are consistent with one another. There are many creative looking websites out there but the writing is often full of bland corporate cliches.
Brands also need to be consistent across platforms and over time. Although the purpose of the piece and the medium it is on will affect the structure of the writing, the overall tone should make it clear that the same company is speaking.
If you are in the market for a new website and need help with your content audit, this is something Vu can do with you. By combining striking design with a compelling voice, you can maximise the impact of your brand, improve conversion rate and ultimately grow your business.