02 Apr A Pretty Website is Nice, but Content is Still King
When thinking about building a website — personal or commercial/business — there are certainly a lot of things to consider. Everyone wants a beautiful website, and rightfully so; it’s the first thing a visitor notices. But it is also important to remember: “beauty” is not necessarily the most important thing to think about when attempting to attract new customers, repeat business, and search engine optimization. Turns out, Google doesn’t care at all about how pretty your site looks. (Also, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as we know. You and I may not have the same ideas about what constitutes a beautiful website.) Google and other search engines really only care about the text content and its compatibility with those who are searching for businesses just like you.
I acknowledge and understand that writing good content is difficult; I’ve edited pieces of my own content three or four times after the site is already published in an effort to better connect with my customer base. Nothing wrong with that; editing is a good way to test what works and what does not. Having great pictures will certainly enhance the experience of any visitor, too, and a visually appealing site may be enthralling depending on what it is you are intending to sell/display/portray. But do not mistake a visually appealing site for one that has an intriguing, concise message. I realize that they say a picture is worth 1000 words, but in the new world of SEO and social media, it turns out, text copy is most relevant. I believe that’s why we have hashtags, and why they are so effective. Words still matter.
As a web designer, developer, and an artist, I understand how important aesthetic is. I also personally know a few copy-editors, and in Los Angeles, they make in excess of $50,000/year, so please be aware that text-copy is critical to a brand’s development, it is not cheap, and it is just as important as (if not more than) the design itself.
Some don’t like to think about content until they see the site they want to see, but it turns out that it can delay the progress of the project if you decide you want to wait until a designer has created a visual. It may also end up costing you more money and SEO results in the long run as you are paying for the designer’s time. If you are expecting the web designer to create the content or edit it for you, you will likely wait even longer. (Also, not all designer’s are willing to create content, so it’s best to ask when you first make contact.)
With regards to content — assuming you’d like to create your own — pretend that you are writing a very long brochure, and break it up into pieces. What do you need your potential customers to know? Who are you? When/where did you get your start? What is your business M.O.? Be free to tell people a bit of personal information about your journey; it makes you feel relatable. Talk about what makes you different from the others who are doing what it is you do (and there are MANY others). Remember that the beautiful thing about a website, as opposed to a brochure, is that you can choose to edit at any time without having to pay the cost to “print” more. Don’t be afraid to read it and make changes. It is a beautiful thing to know that nothing in the web world is permanent, but it is very nice to have a solid jumping off point with a soft place to land.