Dammit, I don’t know what your product does
A website, a tool used to convert a potential customer or inform about your product, service or cause. It sounds like a basic tool that has to do one simple job well and that tells me what you are doing or selling. Instead, we go with complex or my favorite "innovative" "turn-key" vocabulary that confuses visitors. And web writes think that if the content sounds too simple, our product will look cheap. Or less innovative or insert any other excuse here.
Others may think that you need this kind of complex vocabulary. Why? Because their visitors are corporates and they will think our tone of voice is not serious. Guess what, people from corporate world are human beings too. Every human being on this planet does not use things they do not understand. So when he goes on your website and does not understand what you do, this means he does not get it. Then he goes on a phone call with a representative from that company and finally gets it what they do.
Do I really have to do that? To reach to a human being in order to understand what your product does? Some even use this a tactic in order to upsell a product.
I can understand. We all want to sound professional and look like experts in the industry. So we decide to add some magic, use words we don’t understand. So we will sound so complex that the user will leave after reading the 4th sentence. Imagine talking to a stranger and you are explaining to him how to design a racing car engine. You have two choices here, either you explain him with plain language on what it takes to design one. Or you go with technical language until he runs away from you.
Your goal is not to explain your entire system on one page. Your goal is to gain my interest and tell me that your product/service is a good solution for my problem. Then once you get my interest, I would need some more details. For that I will go on pages such as FAQ, How it works and Product. These are the pages where you can with details, but even here you should be crystal clear.
I am not sure who's quote was it but it is my favorite. If you can't explain it to your mother, then you do not understand it.
So what’s wrong with the most copy on the websites today? It is too complex for a fast environment we live in. The average consumer is bombarded with tons of messages on a daily basis. Apps that require constant attention. And he simply does not have the time and energy to dig into your hard copy and learn what you do.
The equation is very simple: “I do not understand what you do” + “I leave your website after 10 sec” = Lost opportunity
When I go for example to companyname.com, I should understand from the first 2 lines what’s this product or website about. Not the second block, third or so on, but the moment I land on your website. Those first lines I see should tell me what this is about.
Bad copy examples:
The reason why picked them is because they appeared as a promoted content on my Linkedin feed. So the bad thing about this company, is that you do not get what they do when you land on their homepage. First thing you see? A blog article. Right… Even if you scroll down you see other links that lead you to. Apparently this company is big on the market, but I heard about them for the first time. And after some research I still don’t get what they do. Ok but let’s assume that I am the last person on this planet that does not know on what they do. So I decide to go to their “All services” page and guess what. I get a list of words and images that explain me 0 things. But at least I know that is something about technology.
If you scroll a bit more you will see the All Services heading. And I finally breath reliefed and think, now I will understand what they do! Not that fast Sherlock. Instead of services I get 2016 trends, advanced mobility trends and so on. Apparently this section should have been called Blog.
Another good example of a landing page that gives you 0 context. First things you read is their greeting and something about innovation. You have a picture of people in the background smiling. And you will never guess, but it is a testing software that allows you to A/B test your designs and see which one is a potential winner. And some other feature too. “Optimizely, please steal this description from here.” Usually, this kind of companies rely on salespeople to explain what their product does to a potential customer. And how the process looks? They go out in the field and after a 1-2 hour presentation to a potential client, he understands what the product does and decides to give it a try. How much effort only because the website could not help them.
But then you see that lovely heading which says “Be bold. Let your whole team play.” Play what? Do what? What does your product do dammit?!
Good copy examples:
My favorite one so far on what I have seen on the web. This is their landing page and it is crystal clear on the product is and what it does. And look, they got some awwards there that increases the credibility! This approach is what I would recommend to anyone, an image of your product or service, a crystal clear copy on what it does and if I want to find out more give me some links!
I love these guys. Besides the fact that they make the web a better place to read, it’s crystal clear on what they do. Just go to their website and you will get the idea the moment you land. It is that simple, they correct your grammar or word mistakes. And everything is shown in a lovely GIF. Need more examples on what it can do or what are the features? Scroll down, it’s a pleasure of reading and scanning what they do. Short and on point.
How can you test if the copy on your website is clear enough? This may sound complicated and new, but ask a human being! Poof. A good way is, of course, to test it on your target customers, but ideally, you should test it on random people too. Just show them the website/design and see what they think about your product when they read the text and see the first visuals. Then ask them to scroll a bit down and read more. After they finish scrolling it should be crystal clear, on who you are, what you do, how you do it, and why you are good.
Some other good tips would be, to use elements that represent your product. For example, if it is an app for dating, then use the app itself with an image on the background with two people holding hands and smiling (the usual stuff). But don’t use the second separately please, it’s confusing and cheap. And trust me, when you have a software that sells a SaaS product and you put an image of a city in the background, it gives me 0 context.
- Use common words that are used by most people.
- The paragraphs should be written for lazy people that don’t like reading.
- Expect a visitor to arrive on any page of your website.
- Use big headings, for people who scan. If scroll through your website and read your headings only, it should be clear on what it does too.
It’s a big mistake to assume that people treat web content like print content. It’s a totally different environment. You should not treat your visitors like human beings who like to read. It’s mainly because they do not read the copy, they scan it. Web copy is scanned or glanced. But never read. Why? Because your visitors are hunting information about your product/service and make quick decisions if it is going to be a good fit for them or not. If your positioning is clear and the message is on point, then it will be much easier to stand out from the crowd and people would love to give your product or service a try. Why? Because they understand it, looks promising and can solve a potential problem someone has.
Disclaimer: I did not intend to offend any of the companies above. If you feel offended, then please receive my apologies and go and change your copy. May the crystal clear copy be with all of you.