This is an ongoing debate, making copywriters and graphic designers clash into an endless battle. What is more important in a website: the design or the copy? Both sides have powerful arguments, and none is ready to relent to the obvious compromise: design and content actually complement each other, they do not (or should not) be in competition.
If you want a parallel, it is like asking what matters more: a great piece of music on the sheet, or a talented musician performing it? It is quite obvious that you need both, otherwise you wouldn’t listen to good music. Leaving aside musical parallels, let us get back to the general topic we are interested in: marketing and advertising.
One of the greatest advertisers and copywriters of the world, David Ogilvy, developed and perfected a simple and effective 5-step formula for creating compelling ads. These five steps consist of:
Even though Ogilvy developed and applied this formula in the age of print advertising, it is still valid today. And it indicates that both the visual (design) element and the copy (content) element play equally important parts in creating a compelling ad.
Now, let us translate Ogilvy’s formula into the key to a high converting web page.
- Visuals – Use Relevant, High Quality Photos and Design Elements
The visual impact of a web page is the first thing which attracts a visitor’s attention. An effective colour scheme, great balance between design elements, text and whitespace, as well as high quality photos are the first things people see. And this is what determines the decision to start looking over the page and start reading.
At this point, design is king. A cluttered design, with clashing colours and too many visual elements will make any visitor leave the page. The age of animated GIFs, flash elements and boring stock photos is gone. Now, it is all about creating a unique, relevant and authentic look, and offering website visitors a great browsing experience on all devices.
- Caption – Put Your Logo Where People Can See It
The caption is your mission statement, your logo, what you stand for and what you can do for your customers. It has to be short, punchy and memorable. And it has to be visible, too. Here we have a classic example of content and design working together to create an unforgettable experience. Your logo may be the smartest ever, but written in an unfortunate looking typeface and with a dubious placement, somewhere at the bottom of the page, it will never draw attention.
- Headline – Make the Title Pop Out
We have already written on the importance of a great headline on several occasions. People have a short attention span. If great design managed to attract it, the job of the headline is to maintain the viewer’s attention. Once again, design and copy work together – clever words and a clever placement, with a careful choice of font and size of typeface, will either make or break the deal for your potential lead or customer.
- Copy – The Copywriters’ Moment to Shine
Copy – the content of the website – is undoubtedly the key to a sale or a new subscription on your mailing list. This is definitely where great content, carefully crafted, really matters more than anything. No design or graphic element can replace the art of persuading prospects, making them lust for a product and directing them towards the decision to make a purchase.
- Signature – The Call to Action
This is another moment of perfect marriage between design and content: a great CTA button is the result of carefully crafted copy, design and placement on the web page. You cannot afford to miss out on any of the two aspects (see our recent articles on the topic of calls to action).
As a final conclusion, if it is needed – there is no way of placing design over content or content over design in the development of a website or landing page. They are both equally important if you want to drive conversions and grow your sales.