Entries Tagged 'website design' ↓

Is Beauty Better Than Function?

beauty vs function

You’re in the market for a new website.

After doing a bit of research you’ve whittled it down to two web design companies. Both have great reviews and testimonials, both have impressive portfolios. So which do you choose?

Company A meets with you and shows some ideas for your new site.

It’s stunning.

Its glorious full colour images far outweigh everything else on the page.

Eye-catching it definitely is, but you’re slightly concerned about how easy to use it will be.

There’s no obvious navigation. Users have to explore the image to find the links to the sub pages.

Company A tell you that this is the latest design technique that all the major players are using. If you have the same for your website you’ll be seen as an edgy, dynamic company. You like that sound of that.

Then you are visited by company B.

Their design is all together more traditional.

There are some nice touches and it looks very professional, but it doesn’t have quite the same eye-candy appeal as the other one.

They explain that it’s been designed with your customer in mind. It’s simple yet elegant navigation makes it easy for the user to find their way around. Each page has enough text on it to show the user what you do and, more importantly, what you will do for them.

You can see their point, but you’ve been dazzled by company A.

What do you do?

Well, the chances are if you go with company A, although you’ll have a stunning site no one will use it, because:

  1. They won’t be able to find it because the image heavy design limits it’s SEO potential
  2. If they do find it they won’t have a clue about how to find the information they’re looking for

Company B’s design might not win you (or rather them) any design awards, but it will get ranked (provided you have a great SEO strategy) and your customers will love it.

Every thing you do must be done for your customer. That means your website must give them what they want.

Remember, you’re investing in your companies future, not the award-winning potential of the web designer.


Things to Think About When Designing Your Website

First things first, I’m not a web designer or an SEO (search engine optimisation) expert, so this post is written from a business owner’s perspective.

Having gone through 3 website design processes (and currently going through the process for the fourth time), I have learnt a thing or two about what works and what doesn’t.

Before looking at web design specifically, I want you to think about the content on your site. As a copywriter that is obviously my area or expertise and the way that’s created has a lot in common with web design.

One of the biggest mistakes I see is copy written from the company’s point of view. It tells the reader all about the business, how long it’s been in existence, how they are the leading widget builder in their field, how they value their customers and how reliable they are.


Heard it all before.

There is nothing there that makes them stand out from all the other widget makers.

Why is that so wrong?

Because the only thing the reader is concerned about is themselves. They want to know that your product is going to help them in some tangible way – saving them time, money, making them more successful etc.

What does all of that have to do with web design?

Well, when you start with your web design process you’re more than likely going to think about what you want to see.

You’re going to want to be the owner of the flashiest, quirkiest, most modern looking website out there.

You’re going to obsess over colour, images and fonts.

The problem is none of that stuff is important.

Granted, it’s got to have a professional look to it, but it’s far more important to give your customers what they want.


Because they are the ones you want to buy from you.

Think how your customers are going to view your site – ask yourself what will they want?


  • Clear and logical navigation
  • Useful information that’s updated regulalry
  • Video how-to guides and product demonstrations
  • A simple way to contact you
  • Information that tells them how your products will help them

In other words they want a website that’s easy to use.

How does that measure up with the plans you had?

Remember, when designing your new website make sure you leave your ego (and your web designer’s ego) at the door. It should be designed for your customer. Everything it does should make their life easier. After all, their interaction with your website will probably be the first impression they get of your company, so if it’s all about them and making their lives easier they’re more likely to buy from you.



9 Ways to Keep Your Website Up to Date

Sprucing up your website doesn’t have to mean a full redesign every few years. There are some less evasive things that can be done to freshen it up and make sure it is performing well. website spring clean

Just like spring cleaning your house, an annual dusting of your website will make sure it remains responsive, SEO friendly and continues to give your customers what they want.

Here are 9 things you can do to keep your website in tiptop condition.

1. Code

If, like me, you have no idea what all those strange letters, numbers and symbols mean behind the scenes, you may want to get someone in to help you with this one.

Cleaner and more organised code means a faster website that loads in a flash and is easier for the search engines to crawl.

2. Title tags and META descriptions

If you have an SEO strategy, you’re probably already tweaking these on a regular basis.

Your title tag lets the search engines know what your web page is about, so make sure you review this regularly. Likewise with your META description, although not a factor in SEO, it must be relevant and appealing to your customers. If you’re not sure what it is, the META description is the short piece of blurb that comes under your URL in the search results. It’s important that it speaks to the reader, highlights the benefits you offer and contains a call to action. The only issue is you have just 160 characters to play with, so you’ll have to get creative.

3. Alt tags

Yes, more tags. The Alt tags are the ones you find behind the images you use on your website. During your review, make sure every image has a tag, but that doesn’t mean you should be stuffing them with keywords. Every tag should be relevant to the image.

Plus, where you have your logo on your website, make sure it’s Alt tag contains your company name or website.

4. Images

Once you’ve reviewed the coding behind your images it’s time to look at the image itself. Are your photos and graphics still relevant? Are they looking a bit dated? What about the size of them? The file size will have a huge impact on the loading time of your website, so if at all possible compress them to give your users a better, faster experience.

5. Call to action

Take a look at your calls to action.

Are they working?

Are your website visitors being converted into customers? If the answer is no, or you’re looking for a high conversion rate, your call to action is a great place to start.

Did you know that Dell increased sales by $25million just by changing their “Learn more” call to action to “Help me choose”? So if you’re not already doing so, test different calls to action to find the one that works best for you.

6. Navigation

The navigation bar on your website is the map your visitors use to find their way round. Check to make sure it is clear and easy to follow. It’s also a good opportunity to make sure it aligns with your SEO strategy.

7. Compatibility

More and more people are accessing the Internet through their mobile phones, so it’s essential your website is mobile friendly.

8. Refresh

While you’re reviewing all these aspects, why not add in something new. How about an explainer video or infographic? Adding fresh content to your website is a must whether it’s a video, graphic, article, report or series of blogs.

9. Does it work?

One of the main reasons websites fall short of the mark is because they are designed and written by people within the business.

Think about it – you’re business is your baby and you’re going to want to shout about it to everyone. But what are your customers looking for? Certainly not your euphoric ramblings about how great you are.

They want to know what you can do for them, which is why it’s a great idea to get someone from outside your company to read your content, follow your navigation and generally ‘play’ with your site to see if it tells them what they need to know.

This exercise is also a good way to check for broken links.

Creating and publishing your website isn’t a one off activity. It’s vital you revisit your site regularly to make sure it’s keeping up with technology and the needs of your customers.

Bookmark this article and diarise regularly to review your website and keep it in tiptop condition.

Author: Sally Ormond, copywriter at Briar Copywriting Ltd, cyclist and Big Bang Theory fan.

How to Create and Run a Successful Website

successful website

You might think I’m about to launch into a thinly veiled sales pitch for professional copywriting services well I’m not. In fact this post has nothing to do with copywriting at all.

There’s more to a successful website that it’s content (although that is a very big piece of the puzzle).

In fact, there’s one mistake companies make over and over again.

You see it on a huge scale.

Want to know what it is?

They try too hard to be pretty.

Function over form

Most business websites are designed for beauty rather than achieving the business’s goals.

The business aims always seem to settle at the bottom of the pile of priorities just because it is perceived that a pretty website will win over a functional one.


When was the last time you chose a company because of its beautiful website?

Think about the big players like Google and Amazon. Are their websites stunningly, jaw-droppingly beautiful?

No. They are functional and give the user exactly what they want.

Oh, look at that, I used the word ‘user’.


Because that is who your website should be aimed at.

Sure, you want to be proud of your company’s website, but isn’t it better to be proud of a website that offers its customers exactly what they want quickly and easily rather than one that looks nice?

The only reason you should put looks before functionality is if that’s truly what your customers want (somehow I doubt it).

Constant testing

How will you know if your website is working its hardest for you if you’re not testing it?

The content, images, graphics, sign-up and order forms all need testing. Only once your website is up and running will you find out what works for your customers and what doesn’t.

The big boys are constantly testing their site’s calls to action, headings, colours, images and content to hone it to perfection.

Even the smallest details can have a huge impact on your conversion, after all Dell increased their sales by a massive $25 million simply by swapping their ‘Learn more’ call to action for ‘Help me choose.’

Step by step

Through testing you’ll identify what needs changing, but that doesn’t mean taking your website off line while you make major changes.

Small changes can be made while your website is live. Monitoring your analytics will help you see what’s working and what’s not so you can keep tweaking until you get the results you want.

That way, your website will evolve into a strong site that gives your customers exactly what they want without experiencing any downtime.

So how can you create and run a successful website?


  • Design it to fulfil your primary purpose and not to make it look pretty
  • Test everything
  • Make small changes to keep your website live at all times

Author: Sally Ormond of Briar Copywriting Ltd – the world’s fastest pedal-powered copywriter (probably).


2 of The Biggest Headaches Web Designers Face

First off, I’m not a web designer so if you are and you disagree with me, please feel free to leave a comment and tell me (and everyone else who will be reading this post) what it is that really bugs you. web designer headaches

As a copywriter, I work with a lot of web designers.

It seems to me that there are still a lot of people out there who firmly believe that:

a)    Their website comes fully loaded with copy

b)    Once it’s published, visitors will flock to their site

If you think like that, you’re wrong on both counts.

Just because you’ve hired someone to build you a fantastic website does not mean people will be beating down your door to take a look at it.

These days, if you want a successful website you’ve got to do some work – well, quite a lot of work and that means having a budget.

‘Budget’ – the word sends shivers down your spine, doesn’t it?

Your outlay doesn’t just begin and end with the design and build of your website. This brings us back to the first misconception listed above.

Your website comes fully loaded with copy

No, it doesn’t.

Your designer will create you a fantastic website, but he or she won’t be filling it with content for you – that’s your job, or if you prefer, the job of the copywriter you’re going to hire.

Yes, hiring a writer means more money, but it will be money very well spent.

Once you have people flocking to your website, it’s the words that will keep them there and draw them in, convincing them to buy or contact you. If you have the wrong words, they’ll keep on browsing until they find a website that gives them what they want. I won’t bore you with the details about how to write website copy here, because there you can read out that in my earlier post ‘How to Create Engaging Website Copy’.

But of course, before your copy can engage them, you have to get them there.

Traffic will just come to you

Err, no it won’t.

This is the other misconception.

Once your website goes live, if you just sit back and wait for visitors you could be waiting a very long time.

No one is going to know you’re there unless you tell them. That means:

  • Getting busy on social media
  • Writing blogs and articles
  • Building links

Yes, in other words, you’ve got to do some work. Again, you can either get on with this yourself, or you can find the budget to pay someone else to do it for you.

Getting a website online is only the start of your online journey. If you don’t have the time, patience or knowhow to do it yourself, the cold hard fact is that you’ll have to find the budget you need to get someone else to do it for you. But just make sure you find someone reputable with a proven track record. Cutting corners by paying peanuts will leave you frustrated with a website full of dire copy and rolling tumbleweed where you should have traffic.

Author: Sally Ormond