A young marketing director recently told me that my new web site design for her employer had "too many words." Being a former newspaper man, I didn't know quite how to take this. After all, I think words are important – whether they're in print or online. But her objections held sway and, in the end, were part of a series of unfortunate events that scuttled the project.
Too bad – because I still think my design would have garnered the company more pageviews and more sales in the long run. Words are important in web design, and here's why:
Google can't read pictures. Google does read words. If the words on your web site match the words people are searching, you are more likely to get pageviews. Simple, huh?
That's not to say you can go randomly stuffing keywords all over your site. Google is on to this and will punish your search ranking severely when it finds out. But if your copy naturally presents the search phrases that people are using, Google will notice and reward you accordingly.
Modern web design is definitely moving toward graphics, but those images better at least have some well-selected keywords in the alt tags if Google is going to "read" them.
People surf the web for information on products and services. A good web site needs to anticipate and answer at least some of the questions a viewer may have.
Just how much information to provide depends on whether the seller wants to generate an immediate online sale or a personal contact from the customer, but in either case it takes carefully crafted words to make it happen.
It is said that people buy emotionally and justify rationally. Images can certainly move a buyer to take action, but I think it takes words to seal the deal. Words – done right – can touch both the emotional desire to buy and the rational justification for the purchase. They push the buyer over the edge, so to speak, and bring about a satisfying transaction.
Without words on a web site, there's no call to action. And no action equals no sale.
Web designer Robert Pitts of Lakeland, Florida, is the owner of Web Designs by Robert G. Pitts, which specializes in the WordPress content-management platform.