As a designer, do you have moments when you and your client are both pressed for time, but you need to create copy quickly? The answers to these four questions will give you excellent starting points for headlines and text throughout a website’s Home and About pages.
Where to start?
My wife is a web designer. She’ll often work with clients who don’t know where to begin with the copy for their website.
The other day, she was about to get on a call with a client and asked me what she should ask that would give her enough material to create appealing headlines and intro paragraphs for the Homepage at short notice.
This is a fun task. You don’t want to overload the client with questions on a phone or video call, but at the same time you need to get key information. You should be targeted, short and sweet, while at the same time giving your client room to talk or expand. Never forget, a passionate business owner will love talking about their service, and give you loads of material.
I quickly summed up the briefest of discovery sessions into the four questions below that got to the key points around the client’s audience and their needs. They helped her, and hopefully they’ll help you, too.
What will resonate with your audience?
Before getting started, you need to remember that people coming to a website are looking to confirm that the business or owner:
- has what they need
- understands their situation
- is trustworthy
Of all these, I would say the second is most important. People everywhere want to be respected and understood.
With this in mind, I recommended my wife ask:
1. What 3 questions do your customers always ask you?
With this question, you can establish quickly what topics your website, landing page or chatbot should tackle straight off the bat. If you have been trading for a reasonable amount of time, you’ll be well aware of all the topics you get asked about again and again. You’ll know exactly what is bothering people when they first come to you, or what they are always curious to find out.
On a Home page, you can use those issues in sub-headings and highlight pages they can go to next to get the answers they’re looking for. On an About page, you can confirm your expertise. In a chatbot, you can give them instant replies – be it simply directions or costs, or a quick conversational response.
Of course, if their queries need longer answers or expanding on to allow for various scenarios, then you can create a dedicated service page or blog post. This will both provide great customer service and help with SEO – especially if your headline is based on an actual search query.
By getting to the crux of your audience’s problems right away, you are making yourself useful and memorable. You’ve understood their issues, made their lives easier without them having to work harder and given them advice they can use. Consciously or subconsciously, they’ll be grateful and instinctively love what you do.
2. What do you love about your work?
This allows your client to express the passion they feel for their business, and you to find out exactly what they feel are the most vital results they get for their clients. This could be as simple as making tasks smooth, quick and easy, or it could be something completely transformational.
What your client says here will give you a steer for all kinds of sub-headings and body copy on the Home and About pages. It might even change your plans for certain elements in the design, help you define bullet points or possible packages, or simply provide a great pull-quote to use on an About page.
Whatever they say here, you’ll understand clearly what is most important to your client about their job. This can inform your design, the images and the copy throughout the site.
3. What is the perfect outcome for your clients?
My motto as a writer is pretty much: ‘Lead With The Outcomes’. While it might not be right for EVERY scenario, headlines and opening paragraphs that touch on the biggest benefit or most ideal result will resonate heavily with your readers.
Painting a picture of the perfect outcome builds a positive impression around your service or product and, again, makes readers feel you completely understand the problems they are facing. You’re showing you can deliver exactly what they want.
The answer to this question has the potential to fuel headlines and above-the-fold copy across many sections of the site, not just the Homepage. It’ll also help you tie up pages as you come to the end (so the reader finishes on an up) and serve as prompts for text and calls-to-action around bookings, sign-ups or sales. Give readers a reason to care.
4. What do your clients love about what you do?
Client feedback is a goldmine when it comes to creating copy. Identifying what people appreciate most about your client’s service or product will give you vital clues about what to include in copy down the Homepage as well as on the About page and Service pages.
We’re not just talking about the perfect outcome here, but the actual experience customers get from working with your client. This will be as much in your client’s approach or delivery as in any life-changing benefits they receive.
The point is, they know they can get the same service or product elsewhere. But the way your client does it will differentiate their brand from the rest and make people want to come back for more. Highlighting this throughout the copy – perhaps even making a feature part of their brand (such as ‘the detail-obsessed copywriter’) – can be a big attraction point for the right prospects.
It will also work to get readers nodding at key points in the text. Starting sentences with “You’ll love how…”, “You’re looking for…”, “You want [X] but with…” (or more subtle uses) can form a strong bond with the prospect if it fits with their needs and priorities.
Just bear in mind that the above questions are quick shortcuts when you need some material quickly and neither you nor your client has a lot of time at that moment.
While they don’t really replace a more in-depth discovery session – where you learn a lot more about your client’s ideal clients, business focus and personal voice – they will give you a strong start.
As it turned out, my wife the designer got exactly the information she needed and went on to create Home and About pages that delighted her client. If you use them as well, I hope you get the same results!
Or, if you’re baulking at the idea of quizzing your client on their work and their clients, why not get in touch with me? I’d be happy to organise a half-day discovery session resulting in a huge bundle of insights on what to say on a website, and likely real clarity on your client’s offers.
Drop me a line via the contact page.