6 wonderful ways to win the heart of a web designer
I stumbled on Sara Lancaster’s blog recently and, true to the theme of today’s post, I fell in love.
She gives solid advice for freelance writers in a deceptively simple style. After reading a few posts, I asked her to contribute a post to Pro Copy Tips.
So, say welcome to Sara.
If you’re a Web site copywriter, you typically have two people to make happy: the Web site owner (“the client”) and the designer of the Web site.
Because referral and repeat business is the name of the freelance copywriter’s game, winning the heart of the Web designer is an imperative.
Starbucks cards and links to hysterical YouTube videos will help with this mission, but you’ll also have to pull out all of these Web site copywriting stops.
Copy should come first, but it doesn’t always work that way
Web copy should determine Web site design, but, unfortunately, some Web designers prefer not to work that way. And many Web site owners can’t afford a truly original site design.
Because many Web sites are based on templates, copy usually comes second (read more about this concept in a previous post, Copywriter thumbnails and how to draw them).
Before you start writing Web copy, find out how far along the designer is in the design process. If she hasn’t yet started, then now is the time to share ideas. If she has begun the design or chosen the template, ask to see a wireframe or view the development site. This way you can write the copy to fit within the parameters of the site.
Create headlines that evoke an image
Let’s all agree that the World Wide Web has enough images of anonymous call center employees and satisfied looking professionals in power suits. Help your Web designer by giving him creative headlines that bring a picture to mind.
Give a little search engine love
Few busy Web designers would disregard your suggestions on how to incorporate search engine optimization tactics into the Web copy. Speak with the client and/or Web site designer to see what, if any, keyword research has been completed.
If none (and there is no room in the client’s budget for keyword research), spend 10 minutes plugging your ideas into the Google AdWords Keyword Tool. Based on what comes up, make a list of 10-20 keyword phrases that could be useful.
Once you have a list of keywords on hand, assign two to three keyword phrases to each Web page and incorporate them into the text where appropriate. In addition to body copy, write the page titles and Meta descriptions using those keywords, too.
A word on keywords, page titles, and Meta descriptions …
Some Web designers appreciate your work in this area and others may feel like you have encroached on their turf. Tread lightly.
Oh, and one last thing. If they want your help in this area, ask what file type they prefer the data be saved in. Excel may be the easiest.
Graphical text adds to design
Bold and italicize important text to make the page easier to scan, add sub-headers where relevant, and indicate where a graphical text box or pull out quote could be useful. The Web designer won’t be as immersed in the copy as you are, so give ‘em a break and provide instruction on what you think could work graphically.
Don’t speak ill of the client
If at any time you and the Web designer need to communicate about the project, don’t criticize the client or vent excessively about the project. You may think you are harmlessly putting down the ideas of the “clueless” client, but you just might be talking about the ideas of the Web designer.
Hand it over in text (with HTML if you’re hoping for a holiday card)
Imagine a world where the Web designer simply copies your text (containing HTML code for paragraphs, headers, subheaders, lists, and links) from a Notepad document and pastes it into WordPress or Joomla or whatever Web development tool he chooses to use.
This means he’ll have to do very little formatting and next to no linking. This last step alone will make him love you (or at least put you on his holiday card mailing list).
Sara Lancaster is a Denver-based Web site content writer who helps small businesses with their Web marketing. She’s on Twitter as @SaraLancaster where she works day-in and day-out to win the hearts of Web designers everywhere.
No related posts.