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Why Your Web Copy Is Failing Your Design (And How To Fix It)

Author: Patrick Foster

Your website’s copy and its design are not two disparate things, existing independently of each other. They should work in tandem, with each element helping the other achieve a shared goal.

Why Your Web Copy Is Failing Your Design (And How To Fix It) Image Pexels
Image Pexels

But sometimes, your web copy can let down your web design. This results in a dissonant website that lacks purpose and jars with your target audience. Read on to discover why your web copy is failing your design, and how you can take steps to fix it today.

Your landing pages are where your web copy and design really come together. Find out how to perfect your landing pages with this handy guide.

Purpose-driven design needs purpose-driven copy

A good website has a clear purpose, a coherent objective that gives you something to strive towards. It might be as simple as “to sell products” or “raise awareness”, or it might be more niche such as “to create a community” or “to source feedback”.

Your website’s purpose will be reflected in its design. But it’s not enough to simply have a design that supports your website’s objectives — the copy too should work in tandem with your design to better meet your overall purpose.

Think of your website as a forest glade with several different paths leading from it. Without clear, direct signposting, you’ll struggle to find the path that best suits your needs.

To this end, your copy should inform and direct. Naturally, clear call-to-actions (CTAs) are the signposts that guide your user to your desired outcome. But supporting these should be concise, accessible copy that informs your visitor.

Don’t beat around the bush. Be direct and to-the-point with your copy, writing in short, tight sentences that get to the crux of what you’re talking about. Your copy should also be set out distinctly on the page, with clearly delineated text boxes that help your visitor find what they need to with ease.

Don’t jar your audience with incongruous copy

While your website should be geared towards achieving one or more clear purposes, so too should it be geared towards your target audience as well. Your design and your copy should work together to resonate with your target market, incorporating their personal beliefs, pain points, needs, and so on.

This extends to their vocabulary as well. The copy you use should reflect how your target audience speaks — the slang and cultural references they use in their day-to-day life.

But it’s important to ensure that your copy does not clash with your design in this sense. For example, if your target audience is middle-managers and C-suite execs, you need a slick, professional design that reflects that.

But if your copy is informal and quirky, it’ll create dissonance with your design and alienate your audience as a result. When your copy and your design are aligned, your audience will be more engaged with your website as a result.

Lead a horse to water with image-led copy

Many amateur brands lean too heavily on visuals to achieve their goals. For most industries (with some notable exceptions including cars and apparel), it’s nigh-on impossible to convince someone to act through images and design alone.

It is copy that really convinces an individual to make a decision, whether it’s to purchase something, sign up to an email list, join a cause, and so on. But conversely, copy isn’t enough on its own to achieve this either. In essence: you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.

So instead, use your visual content as a hook to lead to your copy and overall business goals. Eye-catching and relevant images, combined with a clear, uncluttered design, grabs your visitors’ attention.

Once you’ve snared them, use a strong headline to reel them in. Power words are your friend here — bold words such as “steal” or “bargain”, and even less obvious ones such as “on us” or “enjoy”, make for attention-grabbing headlines that slowly build on visitor attention.

Your web copy should focus this attention towards getting your visitors to make your desired action, naturally ending in a strong CTA.

Like ebony and ivory, your web copy and design should live together in perfect harmony. Each element should support and drive the other, helping your website achieve its goals. Follow the tips above and create a website supported by a blend of copy and design that works for you well into 2019.

Patrick Foster is a writer and ecommerce expert for Ecommerce Tips. He understands the challenge of catering to users and search engines.
Visit the blog, and check out the latest news on Twitter @myecommercetips.

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