Websites should add value for their users. This value can be a great shopping experience, expert advice on a niche topic, or even clear information about how to contact a company. Whatever the value is, it is delivered through content.
Google loves content. And so do the real people visiting websites. Adding high-quality content is a win-win solution to improving your website. You can have a beautifully designed website, but if the writing is bad (or there isn’t any text), your website visitors will soon leave to find a website that gives them more information.
Igloo is a television receiver in New Zealand that has a playful logo and a writing tone to match. (click image to enlarge) See more about Igloo’s design and style guide in an identity analysis by Brand New.
As people read the content, they should get a sense of what your company stands for, not just in what you are saying, but how you are saying it. Part of the purpose of design is to set the right mood and communicate a certain message. This is done through colors and images and font selection for your logo, website, and other materials. It is also important that the writing matches the tone set by the design. The choice of which words and tone to use are just as important as the design choices.
I was recently reading a great article from A List Apart that talks about the importance of having the right tone in your site content. One part of the article that caught my eye was this observation:
“It’s one thing to write copy that fits on a website. It’s quite another to write copy that fits in with a website. You wouldn’t try to force an incongruous visual element into a carefully considered design. Same goes for written content. Even if you’ve wisely designed a site around the content it delivers, written copy may fit neatly physically but still ring false to the intended audience.”
The content on the Mysterious Trousers website is straight-forward and light, matching the laid-back nature of the site design. (click image to enlarge)
The writing on your website should have a distinct voice. Your company should have a “brand personality” that will guide you to know how to write. Think of your company as an actual person, someone that your customers trust and like to spend time with. Every time you write something – whether it’s a product description, blog post, Facebook comment, or anything else – ask yourself how this company spokesperson would say things. Then write like that.
In order to determine the right tone of voice for your content, you need to know who your audience is. We’ll talk about this in more detail in a future post, but for now, just remember that it’s important to keep the audience in mind as you create your website and write content that will appeal to them. Your writing doesn’t have to be epic or qualify you for a Pulitzer prize. It doesn’t even have to be something that everyone likes (or even understands). It just has to be something that reaches your customers on their level and talks about things that are important to them.