This week I want to talk about websites. I do have my favourites. For me, the best websites are those that combine a sleek, clever yet simple website design combined with the right words, words that speak volumes for the brand, business and the product or service it’s trying to sell.
Website design & content - a heavenly marriage. I always believe that the design and content should go hand in hand, because visuals and content are key, and must be in perfect harmony to create that heart thumping first impression. It doesn’t have to be technologically sophisticated with whacky graphics, but it needs to be clever enough to capture someone as they pass by on what they think will be a flying visit. If you capture them for more than a few seconds, and they stick around for a while, you’ve done part one of your job. The second bit is making sure the words reel people in to take action, this can be via one of two ways, to sign up or to buy, or a combination of the two.
Be as precise as you can. Personally, I don’t believe in filling up a website with thousands and thousands of words, I usually prefer 300 - 500 carefully chosen ones on each page that say perfectly what needs to be said without being too onerous. We’re are constantly being told is that for most people, their concentration differs to when they’re reading print, we’re talking a matter of seconds. With this in mind, 8k words is an unnecessary burden that probably won’t get read. If you do feel it’s essential to have that much content on any of your pages, aim for a clear to read font, preferably Arial, make sure it’s of a reasonable size and go for 1.5 spacing. I’ve seen too many websites I can’t be bothered to read with reams and reams of content written in small almost illegible fonts. Break it up with headings, subheadings and bullet points, where it feels natural. You want to peak their interest not bore them to death.
Think tone of voice. It’s your audience, your clients voice, needs and concerns that are of paramount importance, it’s not just about what you think. You want to capture their attention using language that speaks to them, that understands their pain points, that speaks their language. Don’t fake it, match the product or service to the customer, if you use the wrong voice, you could drive those all-important clients away.
I have rounded off my current favourites to five. It’s a mixed bunch of people, all of which captured my ears and eyes, and I naturally chose people I’m attracted to working with, with the occasional one here and there from a different industry.
There aren’t enough good things I can say about this first one. Liz Goodchild is a life coach, her website is clean and clear with only one or two colours used over the entire website. There’s a picture of her sitting relaxed on a tall stool next to the heading “Life Coaching for People Who Give a Shit” and it’s fabulous. Underneath, an impressive list of logos, people she’s worked with. All of the website’s content is relaxed and approachable, exactly what you need for a life coach, it’s also clever, fun and irreverent, it might be aimed at the 30-40 age group and the headings and subheadings are spot on. It doesn’t aim to be too serious, nor does it try to be overly dry and pretentious. It’s just the sort of writing that would make me want to get in touch, I feel she’d understand me. How does your content make your clients feel? I’m just jealous I didn’t write it.
This website is clean and crisp, no colours, the images do all the talking, the content is set on a white background. This white space allows the potential customer to focus on the items, for this is a bespoke jewellery designer, the attention is all on the product. The words are minimal and say what needs to be said and balances perfectly with the website’s design. Her About Me page is gorgeous, I get a strong sense of who she is, and doesn’t go on and on forever with a chronological list of all academic achievements since the year dot. What Diane does is tell you about her inspirations, her passions and what took her to where she is today.
This is slightly outside of my comfort zone and not my industry at all, but if a bakery business could make anyone feel passionate about baking then Grout’s has achieved it. Again it’s the simplicity I love. Blue on a white background, the images do the talking and the content never takes over from the website’s design, this is a perfect example of both working in harmony. Even the baker’s history isn’t onerous, it’s broken up nicely and gives you a sense of their past and how they’ve got to where they are today.
Creatives are also my thing and one thing I noticed while researching online was how many actresses, and an awful lot of musicians seemed to create onerous lists, which were so long and arduous to read I gave up. I realise that there is a need to keep potential clients/employers informed of a creative’s past and for an actor, their measurements etc, but there were too many of the long, tiny print fonts which were soul destroying to read.
Elana Dunkelman’s was a refreshing change. Again a white background with no colours used other than the images, even her resume is short and sweet, with her images of past acting jobs doing all the talking. I would love to work on her bio, but other than that this is a website that says what it does on the tin and represents the actress beautifully.
My fifth and final favourite is The Rule of Three Copywriting Studio and it uses the rule of three concept in a very clever way. If you’re unfamiliar with what the rule of three is about it’s basically a principle that works on the premise that three of everything together are better and far more effective than any other number if you wish to engage your reader.
Their tagline is “This is the art of copywriting, the science of persuasion, the power of words and ideas.” So their power of three is persuasion, words, ideas. Simple yet effective. The content is very Applesque in style with lots of short sharp sentences ending in a full stop. You could argue this style of writing has been overdone, but I don’t think it’s lost its ability to impress. Their website is short on colour, using black and white, and this is enough. If I was starting my own agency, this is what I’d want, but that idea’s been taken and I’m sulking about it. I think it’s one of my big favourites and perfect for a copywriting agency.
So there you have it, some fantastic websites that really speak volumes for what they represent. Both website and content work together in harmony with neither taking overwhelming the other. If you're about to start a website for a new business, always make sure the content is written first before the website is designed, in an ideal world put the designer in touch with the copywriter and let them work their magic.
Until next time......
*I have only two book rec this week and that's Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle and Amanda Palmer's The Art of Asking. The first because, well, why not? and the second because sometimes we don't feel brave enough to ask for help....and we should. Something a fellow colleague reminded me about this week.