I started building websites in the early 00s and have seen the landscape change in one way or another. If you are a creator, a website might not be your bread and butter these days — more likely that is your social media channels. However, I still believe every person needs a website to act as a central hub and place where people can always find you. This is obviously even more true for brands.
So, whether you work in house at a brand, have your very own website, or are just thinking about creating one, these tips will be universal and will stand the test of time. These aren’t based on design theory, or created by some high $ agency — but are some things I have picked up over the years.
Call me out
The first thing you should do is make sure your home page has a clear call to action. This means that when someone lands on the page, they know what it's asking them for — whether this is signing up for your newsletter, or buying something (or just reading more). The easiest way to determine what your call to action should be is simply completing the following statement: “When someone arrives at my homepage, I want them to ___ ” ← the answer here is your call to action.
An example, from my DJ website. "When someone arrives at my homepage, I want them to book me for an event."
Guess what I'm going to write on the button that takes people to my booking page? You guessed it, it's going to be "Book me for an event" - which is more compelling than "Contact me"
Show me what you got
Next up, it’s time for a little show and tell. But in the case of your website, it’s time to show, don't tell. This is your opportunity to think like your customer and show me why I should choose you, don’t just tell me about yourself. How can you do this? Show me the outcomes of working with you or buying from you. These example outcomes can come in a variety of forms. Some of the most tried and true are testimonials from current customers or clients, case studies if you’re working with a specific type of client, or customer logos if you are selling to other business.
People like me
Talk to me nice. When you’re showing and telling, try to avoid using statements like “We, I, and ours”. Instead, begin your headings and sentences with phrases that your customer can relate to. Your copy should reflect your customer. Don’t tell me what you do, tell me how you are going to solve my problem.
An easy framework to use here is “people like us, do things like this.” For example, instead of saying something like “we sell strategy guides for people that work in marketing” say “busy and burnt out marketers get their secret shortcuts with our expert guides.”
It comes and goes
Design trends come and go, but the importance of copy will always be relevant. In fact, I would argue that good design and esthetic is in place to assist copy. They’re like a tag team that work together for the championship belt.
So, my number one rule of web design is: simple explanations that use fewer words are better than complexity. Write in language that is easy to understand and can be read quickly by your audience. The simplest way to do these things is to write like you speak. Bonus tip: avoid jargon at all costs.
Here's how I recently edited a line of copy on a friend's website. Notice I went from a longer and more complex sentence to a shorter one:
Wrap it up
That’s it for this week's letter. Now’s a good time to take a look at your website — even if you’re not “the website person” it could be fun to have a little weekend audit to see what you would change or write differently. Want me to give a quick audit of your company's page? Reply back, or have someone from your team reach out to me.