The great debate: how much copy you should have on your site,
particularly on the home page?
Do you subscribe to the idea that a picture is worth a thousand
words--and therefore images, not a lot of text, should be the
main thrust of your home page? Or do words have more power to
capture a visitor's attention and compel them to buy--meaning
you should aim for powerful copy?
As a graphic designer, my natural inclination is to create
graphically-rich, light text websites. Since I'm focused on what
a site looks like visually, I like using impressive images, bold
splashes of color all over the page, and not very much copy. The
end result is an attractive, visually-appealing site, with very
However, I've learned that I have to balance this inclination
with a cold hard reality: what appeals to me as a designer is
not necessarily the same as what visitors need.
The main problem with websites that don't have any copy is that
they fail to quickly and effectively communicate the three
points that all commercial websites must get across: You must
explain what your company does, what the benefits are of using
your product or service, and why prospective customers should
purchase from you.
These important pieces of information can only be conveyed
vaguely, if at all, through images. While pictures are often
very useful in reinforcing a message, it's difficult to
succinctly drive home these important points solely through
On your website, visitors want specifics, and they want them
quickly. They want you to tell them exactly what you can do for
them, and they want to know right now. You must specifically
state what you do and explain how your product or service is
going to make your customers' lives better. You have to spell
out why people should buy from you versus your competitors.
Particularly on a home page, you must catch a visitor's
attention and give them a reason to stay on your site. If you
don't do this immediately, they'll be gone.
For this purpose, words are far more effective than images. In
almost all cases, pictures cannot communicate the message nearly
as specifically or quickly as well-chosen words can.
It's important to remember that the web revolves around
information. People use the web to find out what they need to
know, to be informed on topics that are important to them. That
almost always means they are looking for text. They want
explanations, answers, reasons, and motivation.
I firmly believe that pictures and images enhance a website, but
they should be used to provide a tasteful, professional frame
for your copy, not replace it.
It is true that web users are notorious for having short
attention spans and not wanting to read large amounts of copy.
However, the problem is that most of the copy on websites today
is vague and not enticing. It's focused on the company rather
than the customer. So it should be no surprise that visitors
avoid reading it.
The solution does not lie in eliminating text-based
communication; it means we have to work harder to capture
interest with copy. People DO read copy that catches their
If visitors are met with paragraphs that are focused on them,
that are rich with benefits, and that are formatted in
easy-to-read chunks, they are much more likely to be drawn in
and to act on your offer.
Don't focus strictly on graphics. Go for copy.
About the author:
There are 605.6 million people online. Can they find your
business? Jamie Kiley creates powerful and engaging websites
that make sure YOUR company gets noticed. Visit www.kianta.com
for a free quote.
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