A picture is worth a thousand words, and the Internet is a largely visual medium. Research has shown time and again that social media posts featuring pictures and videos get more engagement than text posts alone. That’s why the design and style of your company website matters. Humans like to look at pretty things, and you can keep their attention by giving them enough pretty things to look at.
But is a picture always self-explanatory? Let’s test it.
The photo below, where was it taken?
Without a reverse image search, without Googling, do you know? If you’re fairly well-versed in geography, you can probably make an educated guess, it might even be the right one, but do you know? Can you tell me with certainty where you are looking at?
Words are not just a means of communication, they are one of the main means we have of clarification. A picture might be worth a thousand of them, but words illuminate, which leads to the first vital way the text on a page can benefit your website.
Text can explain.
Have you ever picked something up in a store, turned it over in your hands, and thought, “This looks cool, but what is it?” Even with a product, someone can hold in his or her hands, it’s not always immediately apparent what an object is, what it does, or why someone should want to buy it.
This is where product packaging comes in. Not only can a product’s packaging tell us what an unknown object is or does, it can tell us how easy that product is to use, and why you need one in your life. Stores like US retailer Spencer’s have built entire brands on gag gifts, but do you think the first pair of fake teeth would have sold without the manufacturer telling potential buyers it was the perfect way to “fool your friends” or a “great joke?”
Images are the main event on your website, especially if you operate an online store. They compel customers to click through in the same way seeing physical products draw them to a rack in a store. But images can’t do all the heavy lifting. Words have the power to explain things that don’t make sense from a picture alone.
And the above image? It’s Jordan, for the record.
Text can prevent misunderstandings.
It might just sound like more explanation, but the ability to prevent misunderstandings (and potential product returns) is one of the greatest gifts words can provide to an online marketer or shop owner. When considering what to include in your descriptions and what to leave out, the most essential thing to consider is all the ways in which the images and other objects on a page might be misinterpreted.
Take this photo for example:
Now, imagine this photo is captioned “For Sale.”
Here’s the question for you: What’s for sale?
How about if the photo is captioned “For Sale: Light Blue Trash Bin.” Does that change things any?
If you have ever skimmed through a store catalog, you know they are notorious for creating this kind of confusion. A clothing catalog may have a model wearing a coat, pants, boots, a hat, scarf, and gloves all in the same picture, with just one single letter on the image: B. So, you go to “B.” It’s the hat. “So, where do I find the pants?” you wonder. Sometimes the catalog makes it clear, sometimes it doesn’t. But one little phrase – Pants Pg. 23 – just ten characters of text, clears the entire misunderstanding up.
What people can misinterpret, they will. Words can circumvent confusion, and prevent customer dissatisfaction.
Text can entice.
How does a “healthy, low-calorie green salad with lemon vinaigrette” sound to you? How about a “zesty farm harvest on delicate baby greens?” That was the question a study by researchers at Stanford University aimed to find out.
What the researchers discovered was that descriptors which played up the healthy aspect of food options discouraged people from opting for healthier food options, while adding “indulgent” descriptors to those same foods increased the selection of them by 25%. Even more impressive? Those ordering the indulgent vegetables consumed 23% more of those foods than those who ordered vegetables with the basic descriptors. The foods were prepared the exact same way.
This shows the power of words to influence and to sell. The right descriptions can make items more appealing, even if nothing about the product or service has changed.
Words are also the main device for bringing visitors to your website in the first place. Though the means of searching the Internet has changed over time, and continues to evolve, text is still the main component search engines look at when deciding to send traffic your way, which brings us to benefit number four.
Text can serve as free advertising.
Something rarely overlooked by SEOs and online marketers, but too often overlooked by business owners and individual entrepreneurs, is the fact that a website’s copy is not merely informational, it is also promotional.
Search engines like Google use algorithms to determine where a website should land in the search results, and the right words can move you to the top of that list, while the wrong words can chuck you down to the bottom.
If you are a new (or small) business with a brand new (or low-traffic) website, it is highly unlikely you’re going to get much traction for a search term like “best kitchen tile.” The competition is much too stiff.
If you’re in Norwich, however, a descriptor like “best kitchen tile in Norwich” can help you climb the search results, bringing you more organic business without the additional advertising expense. This is a style of writing in which copywriters, SEOs, and many web designers are well-versed, which is why it can prove financially sound to budget in someone who knows what they’re doing.
“Creative writing” means something different for online copy than for traditional means of communication. With the creative use of words, you can enhance your site’s findability.
Text can further define your brand.
Who is your company? Not what does it do, sell, or make? What is its personality? What’s worth knowing about it?
Branding works because it connects with people on a personal level. DC Shoes connects with skaters and snowboarders, Billabong with beach bums, Rokit with classic fashion aficionados. They do this by becoming one of their intended customers, by creating an identity skater, beachgoers or vintage stylists are automatically attracted to.
Copywriter Tom Albrighton wrote a recent article on how the copy on your website can help your brand. It provides some insight into the power of words to make your company memorable.
When you are designing or redesigning, your company website, it can be difficult to know what’s essential and what’s not as important. By focusing on the core benefits text can provide to your site, you can refine the copy on the page, ensuring you are putting out the message you want to send, promoting your brand in the most effective way, and aligning yourself with your customer or client base.
This post is written by Shawna Newman on behalf of London web design company Bond Media.
Also published on Medium.