When seeking out information about a brand’s services or the benefits of a product, most consumers will end up visiting the company website. But in order to interest and engage visitors, this online portal needs to tick a few boxes.
Seeing as first impressions are crucial, a prime concern is sure to be the website’s overall appearance. If it looks unprofessional or has poor formatting, people will leave your website in 10 seconds.
However, functionality and the ability to navigate easily are equally important. Visitors will want to access relevant content quickly and be able to find their way around without coming across too many stumbling blocks.
But alongside these design and deployment characteristics, a website also needs to think about content carefully, because in many respects this is what matters most.
Style and substance
Even though a website’s substance is of the utmost importance, that doesn’t mean to say you can disregard style altogether. In fact:
- It takes 0.05 seconds for users to form an opinion about your website
- 75 per cent of users admit to making judgements about a company’s credibility based on their website’s design
- 94 per cent of a website user’s first impressions are design-related
As soon as someone arrives at your site, they’ll take a super-quick scan over its design and decide whether sticking around is a good idea or not. For this reason, style should always be a key consideration when it comes to website design.
However, the old adage of “never judge a book by its cover” really does speak volumes here. Any company can invest vast sums of money into making its website the most alluring and attractive on the Internet. But once visitors get past this initial appearance and dig a little deeper, they could soon be in for a nasty surprise.
Why good content matters
Think of your website as a brand new and beautiful Ferrari. It has been designed to the highest specifications possible while managing to exude style, sophistication and panache at the same time. If parked outside your house, you could easily spend days on end lovingly looking at it in awe, which is what the neighbours will probably be doing as well.
But in spite of its aesthetic awesomeness, a Ferrari shouldn’t be standing still; it should be being driven on the open road.
This is where supercars belong, providing the driver with an incredible and extraordinary experience. Are you starting to understand where we are going with this analogy?
If your Ferrari is a website, then the design is the car’s form, which creates a long lasting and favourable impression. However, content is the engine, which offers up everything the user wants and needs. Thankfully, a Ferrari manages to deliver style and substance in equal measure, making it one of the most desirable car brands in the world. The same goes for any website, where design and content should work hand-in-hand to provide the best experience possible.
The importance of website content
Still need convincing that website content should be given priority over design? Well, here are some more reasons.
- Provide valuable information to your audience – From telling prospective customers who you are and what the brand does to details about your products and services, content is on hand to provide a great deal of information to visitors. This can be factual and formal or light-hearted and entertaining depending on the business.
- Improve search engine visibility – Despite the fact content should be viewed as a tool that enhances the customer’s overall online experience, it can also be used to improve search engine visibility. Content should be created with the audience’s persona in mind, but including certain keywords, titles and description will help increase your reach.
- Enhance reputations and relationships – By providing visitors with useful, informative or entertaining content, they will think of the brand favourably. So, along with adding value to their online experience, you are also enhancing your own reputation and building strong customer relationships.
- Increase site stickiness – Or in other words, reduce your website’s bounce rate and measure more effectively. With an abundance of engaging content, visitors won’t be leaving in a hurry and can discover more about what you have to offer. Depending on their position in the sales funnel, content can be used to educate, inform, promote, or persuade.
In addition to the written word, you can also bolster your website’s content with visual stimulation. This can include images, videos, infographics and animations, all of which are great at grabbing the audience’s attention and keeping them on site – Neil Patel has managed to double his traffic using infographics alone.
How to write content that matters
It’s easy to say that writing content is crucial for online success, without providing any helpful tips for the same. The good news is that as long as you have a strong command of language, spelling and grammar as well as an understanding of the subject in question, producing copy can be relatively easy.
However, creating top quality content that is interesting, engaging and of value to the reader is a different story. You want as many people as possible to view and ultimately share your handiwork.
So when it comes to writing copy, we believe the following points are imperative:
- Make it useful – Blog posts, feature articles or even case studies can be anything from entertaining and insightful to personal and timely. But in order for scores of people to read and share your content, it must serve a purpose and be useful.
- Provide a solution – Find out what potential customers are searching for and provide a solution to their problems. Both businesses and consumers are more likely to click a link that solves common issues.
- Conduct some research – Writing content that nobody will search for is pointless, so do some keyword research. It is also a good idea to scour social network sites to see what is trending and popular at the time.
- Use appropriate language and formatting – When writing B2B content, industry buzzwords or jargon is acceptable. But if you’re targeting individual customers, easy to understand language is more appropriate. Avoid long sentences and break up copy into paragraphs using sub-headings.
- Don’t sell – Give the audience a blog post or article they want to read and avoid explicitly promoting your products. This is not the time or place for a sales pitch.
- Be creative – Nobody wants to view the same old content again and again, so challenge convention and be creative. Think about writing in the first person, telling a story or including visual aids like infographics.
The bottom line of website content
We are not suggesting that web design should be forgotten about. Far from it, as statistics on first impressions and user opinion indicate that this is vital. But what we are saying is that website content will be the deciding factor on whether or not a visitor will convert.
It is important to strike the right balance between design and content, as both are required to succeed online. But if you are thinking about redesigning or transforming your website, think twice about prioritising style over substance.