Your brand aesthetic is minimal. Like, super minimal, and you’ve worked so hard creating a page design that reflects your branding and your style. So, obviously, the writing on the page has to be minimalistic as well, right? Less is more. It’s like, a whole theme.
So you come up with a very catchy, very clever headline that works just brilliantly with the design. BAM! You feel great – this is gold.
But wait. Does that catchy, clever headline really do what it’s supposed to do? Does your reader immediately understand why they should spend more than 3 seconds on your site?
Are you being clear? Or are you just being clever?
Let’s look at an example: Asana.com
Asana’s website design is very simple. Large section blocks, tons of white space, not a lot of copy. After all, their brand is all about streamlining and simplifying how you manage your online teams, so the design reflects that.
The headline does too:
It’s short. It’s punchy. It sounds like it should really hit – results oriented, action-based.
The problem here is, what do they mean by results? Saying someone will “get results” is vague, and easily dismissed by a reader. Sounds great to the business owner – who knows exactly what results they mean – but it doesn’t convey that value – that reason to read further – to the prospect.
The tagline, which should do even more work to clear up any confusion over what Asana does, still depends on a vague promise: “Make it easier for your team to do more work that matters.”
What’s work that matters? Is that work that you are doing to manage the project, or work that your team members are doing to complete a project, or work that leads to revenue, or work that leads to lead generation and client acquisition? It could be all of that, but again, you’re depending on your audience to make their own connection.
You’re making your reader do a lot of work just to figure out what this company does and how it will benefit them, REALLY.
Interestingly, I found more clarity about Asana in their Google snippet:
“Track, manage, and connect your projects across any team with Asana. Get started for free. From lists to boards, to calendars and gantt charts, organize work your way in Asana. Easily Coordinate Work. Give Teams Better Clarity. Manage Work in One Place.”
Okay, cool. It’s totally clear how Asana solves my problem with better team management software.
So why not say that in the website headline? The biggest, bestest advertising space they own?
Here’s what that *might* look like:
Still punchy. Still action-based. But getting much clearer on the “why I should care” question.
I should care because “this is one single place where I can track, manage and connect all my projects and team members. Cool, if I can get all that taken care of in one place, then I’ll be able to focus more on business growth and revenue.”
I can hear you now: Objection!
“I can totally be creative and clear at the same time. You shouldn’t be telling me to dull down my writing.”
Because I’m not telling to dull down your writing. I’m asking you to prioritize clarity over creativity. Did the changes to the Asana copy feel dull and boring to you, compared to the original copy? Nope. And it wasn’t even that much longer.
With every edit you make to spice up your copy, you have to go back and ask yourself “is it clear? Does this change make the message less clear, more clear, or just as clear?”
If you’re not sure, ask someone else. Test it in an A/B test. Run it through a Five-Second test with a small audience and ask them what they think the message is after seeing it for only five seconds. If they can’t answer, or they get it wrong, it’s unclear.
There are plenty of great, creative campaigns and brands that hit that sweet spot of clear and clever – it’s what we all strive for!
And just to clear …
This doesn’t mean you need a lot of copy. Or as little copy as possible. Goldilocks didn’t want oatmeal that was too hot, or too cold: She wanted it just right.
For just right copy, you need it to be clear. If that means you need more words on the page, then you need more words on the page. For some strange reason, there is a belief that people don’t read online. People read online. A lot. Trust that if your words are clear, and move towards solving their unique problem, they will read.
** FYI, I used a cool Chrome extension called Edit Any Webpage to edit Asana’s headline and tagline right on the webpage, and then I just took a screenshot to show you. Super-easy, and very useful if you’re doing a case study.