Do web designers need help educating clients about copy?

I’m fresh back in the shire from a lovely couple of days in Cardiff for the business of web design conference. Chris and I also hosted a Second Wednesday pre-event while we were there so it’s been a packed trip!

I can honestly say the name is deceiving… the business of web design was a conference that would appeal to every freelancer working on the web – not just those picky designers (joking folks!). There was plenty of great advice from seasoned freelancers on the worries and issues every one of us experiences at some point in our career. I’m not going to try and rival this amazing write-up of the day from Steve Morgan.

The importance of copy

As a copywriter, I was under the illusion that the talk topics wouldn’t touch on my field of expertise. But I was pleasantly surprised to find how passionate the speakers and attendees were about investing in great content. Although no talk specifically ventured into the murky waters of content creation, during the Q&A (in a particularly passionate discussion on the merits of SEO) many of the speakers – I’m looking at you Paul Boag, Joel Hughes and Sean Johnson – stated the importance of copy in the web design and development process.

I carried this conversation on after the conference (and over breakfast… with a lot of tea) to find out how important copy is to freelancers when they’re working with clients. The general consensus was that they regularly received content from clients that didn’t reflect the quality of the design or build of their new site, but very rarely recommended that their clients use a copywriter to help improve it.

Education, education, education

One of the biggest themes of the day was educating clients to help them better understand why we use the processes, tools and styles we do to craft their websites. We should also be teaching them the merits of professionally written copy.

They may know their business inside and out so the assumption is they are the best people to produce their site copy. However online content is not about writing who you are and what you do – it’s about communicating to the user in a way they want to hear. Language acts as a guide to let them do exactly what they need to do during their visit.

Equally so, I feel so many web designers, developers, project managers… (the list goes on) need the same level of education on why they should only be using brilliant copy to guide and shape their work.

Users come to a website to find information. If that information is confusing, riddled with marketing lingo or simply not there, they will leave. No matter how great your design is, how clean your code is or how many features the site has.

My partner at Crocstar, Christine Cawthorne, wrote an amazing post on why we should be working in together to fill this gap in the industry. Pete Clark, Designer at ClarkCX, also discussed this theme of creating a ‘superteam‘.

Have your say

How often do you use/recommend a copywriter in your design/development process? Would you appreciate the education on the science behind great copy or user needs?

Let me know what you think!

à bientôt

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