There's a common saying in the copywriting field that “content is king.” While the importance of high-quality content can never be understated, when it comes to websites, there’s another king in the castle: layout.
Web users have extremely low attention spans. Chances are, before they even begin reading any of your website copy, they will have made a judgment about your business based on the design of your site and how your content is laid out.
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So how do you go about making a great first impression that encourages users to read the content you have on your website? Consider the following tips:
- Break up your content. Nothing frightens a web user more than a wall of text. Use paragraphs, headers, sub-headers and bullet points whenever possible to make your content more readable and avoid overwhelming visitors.
- Keep it simple. There’s always going to be a temptation to add in all kinds of images, gifs, sounds, colors and other eye-catching design features, but it's always better to err on the side of caution. A simple, flowing design will likely be more effective than one that contains far too many visual distractions. Use images, but in a tasteful and sensible way.
- Make it easy to navigate. There should be a clear way to navigate the pages throughout your site. The best way of doing this is to have a bar over your header that contains links to your pages, and drop-downs that have links to the sub-pages across your site.
- Make it easy to find important information. Contact information, FAQs, order pages and other types of important information should always be easy to find. Be sure to have links to those key pages on every page of your website — preferably in the same location on each page.
- Be consistent. Your design should remain generally the same from page to page. Your visitors should never feel like they are browsing multiple websites just because they move on to a different page of your site.
- Have minimal ads. Many businesses choose to put ads on their sites. Be careful with this. The ads may turn off your customers, especially if they are intrusive or annoying in any way. If you choose to display ads, make sure they are out of the way and do not jump off the page at the visitor.
Remember: even the best website copywriting in the world will never be read if your site is poorly laid out. Follow these guidelines and encourage your visitors to spend more time taking in the content you have prepared for them. If you have any questions, work with an experienced copywriter who knows how to write for the web—including how to format content so that it’s reader-friendly.
Tim Backes is a senior editor with ProPRcopy who has written hundreds of pages of website copy for brands across a wide range of industries.