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Part One of Best Practices in Web Design: The Written Word

Jul 08, 2018

Did you know the average visitor stays on a website for less than a minute, with most leaving after just 10 to 20 seconds?[1] That’s not a lot of time for your business to generate leads!

To keep your target audience’s attention and deliver results, your website must offer visitors an engaging, dynamic user experience while speaking to their needs. If your website doesn’t represent your brand or provide visitors with the information they find most relevant, it’s not going to persuade prospective customers to buy your product or service, or help you build your business with top talent.

In part one of our three-part series on best practices in web design, we explore how you can use the written word to your advantage. From messaging to relevant content to calls to action, the right words lend clarity to your website and inspire prospective customers to take the next step.

Make Your Messaging Clear and Memorable

Messaging is so important because it’s the first takeaway visitors get from your website. If they can’t immediately figure out what you do and how you meet their needs, you’re not going to keep them there for long.


And because visitors often come to your website from search engines, and thus don’t always land on your homepage, make sure your service offering and differentiators are clearly displayed on every page, preferably at or near the top. Whether it’s a header or tagline, simple messaging that explains what you do and why they should choose you helps prevent visitors from immediately bouncing off your website and back to search engines.


Organizations across industries can use messaging to meet their goals. For example, Wipfli client Chippewa Valley Sporting Goods, shown above, worked with us to create a contemporary website that reflected the brand's colors and personality in its imagery and messaging to better appeal to their target audiences. For nonprofit organizations, for another example, the right messaging can increase awareness, leading to more donations and helping volunteers know exactly how they can get involved. Another example is health care, where messaging can present an organization as professional but compassionate, while providing relevant information to physician referral sources.

Focus Your Written Content on Your Customers

While messaging is about what you do and how you differentiate your business from competitors, your written content should focus on how you meet your target audience’s needs, and it should be presented with them in mind.

First, develop a content strategy focused on those needs. Always consider how a piece of content can add value by explaining how your product or service solves a problem your prospects have. For the client below, for example, Pinal Gila Community Child Services Inc. aimed to rebrand their website to communicate a professional, caring brand involving children.


When you sit down to start writing, don’t delay on getting to the point. Prospects want to know right off the bat how they benefit from reading your webpage or blog, so tell them why in the first paragraph. To ensure visitors keep reading until the end of the piece, write with short, digestible sentences, break sections up with subheads and include just enough content to cover the topic (no one wants to read an overwhelming amount of text). Adding visual graphics to further break up blocks of content also helps bring variety to your piece and ensures your visitors stay engaged.

Rather than writing duplicate content across pages, use crosslinks to direct site visitors to related content. This not only keeps your website organized and your pages short but also keeps visitors on your website for longer, which increases your chance of obtaining them as a customer.

Lastly, optimize your content for search engines. Search is less about keyword stuffing these days and more about the phrases people search for. Weave these phrases into your metadata (titles and descriptions) and the first couple paragraphs on the page. Making your website literate for both search engines and people leads to more visitors, who stay on your site longer.

Always Include a Call to Action

The call to action (CTA) is arguably the most important component on your page. Of course, it’s critical to explain to visitors how they benefit from your product or service — but if you don’t tell them what to do with this information, you’re not going to turn as many prospects into customers.

When writing your CTA, make sure it delivers on a specific goal — such as obtaining a sale, capturing data on the prospect or getting the prospect to contact your business directly. It should start with a command verb and tell prospects how to take action (e.g., call now to…, learn more by…, register today or contact us at…). And ideally the CTA should be very visible, gaining primary attention on the web page. Buttons can do a lot more in targeted emails and on landing pages to convert leads than plain links or hyperlinked text can.


The construction and real estate industry offers a great illustration of how to use CTAs. Landing pages should give interested brokers or potential tenants the information they need to make a decision. As a result, many companies and projects, such as 50 West pictured above, use CTAs on these pages to direct visitors to project listings, building specs, photo galleries and case studies. 

Want More Tips for Optimizing Your Website?

These are just three of the best practices that can make a website one of a business’s most productive and effective tools.

In part two of our series, we will cover the visual and design elements that make your website stand out and keep visitors engaged. But first, learn more about how to create a winning content strategy that keeps your business top of mind with your target audience. Contact Wipfli Web Marketing at https://wipfliwebmarketing.com/ to get started.

[1] “How Long Do Users Stay on Web Pages?”, Jakob Nielsen, Nielsen Norman Group, September 12, 2011, https://www.nngroup.com/articles/how-long-do-users-stay-on-web-pages/, accessed June 26, 2018


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Wipfli Editorial Team