I heard the expression the other day that “a camel is a horse designed by committee”. It’s true that when too many people are involved (“too many cooks spoil the broth”—another adage!) and too many viewpoints are shared, a group project can have unexpected results.
A website is no different. There are often at least two parties involved: the web person and the client. Usually though, and even on small projects, more people are involved.
As with other areas of a website, opinions can vary. When it comes to the matter of writing content for your website, who should have the final say? Here I outline some advice that can save horse.com becoming camel.co.uk.
First, consider who is involved and what their opinion and position might be.
The designer, quite rightly, wants the site to look good. This goes beyond logo, colour scheme and making things line up nicely. A good web designer knows where elements fit in on a page to make the experience pleasurable for the visitor. Perhaps less concerned with the unique selling points of the client’s brand new product—or the number of times a search keyword appears in the copywriter’s killer sales copy—the designer is more concerned with overall readability, typography and how the text sits on the page.
While the client may not be a designer, writer or marketeer, he or she knows what they want. Whether it’s to make sure the entire product specification makes it to the website home page or to let the visitor know they’ve been trading for almost five decades, the client wants to be accurately represented online.
Happily living the the world of writing noticeable calls-to-action and tapping away about about benefits and not features, a copywriter wants to use words to sell what the client has to offer.
Finally, we come to the SEO expert. Keen to please both Google and the client, any good search engine company knows if the right words aren’t on the right pages then they have fallen at the first hurdle.
In actual fact no one is especially right or wrong as they all have valid viewpoints. Clearly though, there can be a conflict of priorities. For example, the client may want the technical product data on the site but the copywriter doesn’t feel that will appeal to the full gamut of visitors. The SEO guru wants a nice chunk of text on the home page to please the search engines but the designer feels this will turn his beloved design into an eyesore.
There’s no right or wrong way to approach this. It’s all about trying to get the best of each viewpoint and putting it together to make a workable solution. But what is a workable solution?
To avoid your horse becoming a camel, get a process in place and assign priority based on your findings. First of all, identify the main goals of the website. For example, a portfolio site for an interior design company might place more weight on design whereas an eCommerce site selling gadgets to scientists with PhDs may favour more technical information on the site.
In general though, a workable solution might function like this: the designer creates some (flexible) templates while the client writes an initial draft of the website text. Then the SEO company can perform their keyword research and pass it on to the copywriter with an amended text document—including notes regarding what keywords should appear where. Then finally, the copywriter can produce the finished piece.
While this is by no means a hard-and-fast rule it does demonstrate that by having a process in place your website’s text doesn’t deviate too far from the client’s original aim.