20 Websites With Carefully Crafted and Convincing Copy

by on 2nd July 2010 with 56 Comments

Last week we discussed the importance of copywriting in web design and today we’re showcasing twenty sites that got it right.

Below you’ll find a number of tricks that you can use to create convincing copy for your website. We’ll discuss how to use everything from hyperbole to sarcasm to snag users and score more conversions.

Start with a Question

Creating a headline that’s a question is a great way to grab a user’s attention. Suddenly the statement is no longer passive but reaches out and demands interaction (if only internally) on the part of the reader.

This is most effective if the question is short and straightforward: “Are you listening to your customers?” is a solid example of a question that will immediately make business owners think about what you mean and whether they are missing out. Questions like this often bring realization to a reader and can cause them to doubt any reasons for not exploring your site more or trying your product. “Maybe I’m not listening to my customers. But how would I do that anyway?” If their brains take them this far, you’ve got ‘em hooked.

NiceReply

Quote: “How nice are your emails? Let your customers decide.”

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Steven Little Design

Quote: “I Make Websites, Want One?”

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Idea Scale

Quote: “Are you listening to your customers?”

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Use a Metaphor

Metaphors can be a great way to make your copy more relatable to the person reading it. Rather than discussing web forms in cold technological terms, the site below calls them “fresh baked” and encourages users to “cut serve and enjoy” them.

This metaphor is carried out not just through copy but also in the visuals on the page via the chef character. This makes the site much more friendly and causes the product to feel more approachable.

Formee

Quote: “Fresh baked forms for your websites! We cooked a compliant webstandard form for you. xHTML and CSS are the secret ingredients! Cut, serve and enjoy!”

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Assisted Serendipity

Quote: “Get notified when the scales of love tip in your favor at your favorite local hangouts.”

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Tell Them It’s Easy

There are very few statements that website users want to hear more than “it’s easy.” This is especially true among productivity and team management apps which have been traditionally over-complicated. One of the key elements that prevents users from signing up for a service is that they simply don’t want to take the time to learn it. By assuring them that the learning curve is low or non-existant, you’re directly addressing one of their primary reservations.

Just make sure your website is in fact easy to use before making this claim. There’s no quicker way to make a customer mad than providing them with a complex system while promising a simple one!

Clientr

Quote: “Crazy simple client tracking for small teams.”

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Paprika

Quote: “Productivity isn’t about drop-downs, or rating systems. It’s about quickly recording the things that need done, capturing what you don’t want to forget, and charting your way to the finish line.”

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Shoply

Quote: “Shoply is the easiest way to sell online. We’re not joking, seriously!”

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Nirvana

Quote: “Spend less time managing your projects & tasks
and more time doing them.”

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Tell Them Who It’s For

This one is extremely simple and extremely effective: state who the site is for in the headline. If you’ve built an app or blog specifically for a select group, let them know! When browsing various email campaign options, I was most impressed with Campaign Monitor simply because they stated that it was “for designers” in their headline copy.

This single statement told me that they had built this entire service with me in mind and that if I was going to like any of these services, surely this would be the one.

Campaign Monitor

Quote: “Email Marketing Software for Designers and Their Clients”

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Be Confident

There’s nothing wrong with a little confidence, even to the point of near hyperbole. Notice the words used in the statements below: perfection, beautiful, stunning, etc. These companies aren’t shy about the greatness of their work.

If you’re confident in your product, don’t be afraid to use grandiose verbiage to describe it. Keep it short and simple, but do it justice.

Dubbed Creative

Quote: “Websites Mixed to Perfection”

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Masswerks

Quote: “We craft beautiful and useable websites.”

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Dazzle Cat

Quote: “We design, build and host stunning websites.”

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The Color Cure

Quote: “We are the cure for all things ordinary.”

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Ask For Help

The site below caught my attention because it was a simple and honest plea for help. This guy moved to a new city and wants a job, so he asked anyone who finds this site to help him out by sharing it. I saw humanity in the words that he wrote and genuinely felt like I was doing a good deed by sharing it.

If you want to ask a simple favor of the people stopping by your site, don’t skirt around the issue, come right out and ask. Use plain and clear language just as if you were speaking to a friend.

Chopeh

Quote: “To get there I’m going to need some help. All I’m asking is for you to share this website and somebody, somewhere in Copenhagen might just see it. You never know what that could lead to.”

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Be Clever

I love the wit that went into the statements below. What better way to describe a URL shortener than “the incredible shrinking URL?” It’s a fantastic way to represent a fairly mundane service.

The second example takes the common road of using opposites to make a point. They make a “best of both worlds” claim by identifying their strengths over what you’d find in a traditional agency.

Thurly

Quote: “The incredible shrinking URL”

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Rodeo Park

Quote: “A big agency’s expertise with a small agency’s flexibility and creative solutions.”

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Be Funny

Finally, when all else fails, just try to be funny. I absolutely loved the “invite me to Dribbble” plea put together in the form of the site below. It’s quite hilarious and was in fact successful in scoring the designer an invite.

The other two examples follow suit by using a little tongue in cheek humor to get their message across. This can be hard to pull off effectively and should only be attempted by those who really have a gift for sarcasm.

Please Invite Me to Dribbble

Quote: “I even drew a chart! Designers love charts!”

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BlackRabbit

Quote: “One score & eight years ago, BlackRabbit was born, albeit in physicality alone. After learning to walk & talk (with limited success) sitting down at a computer seemed a better idea. The rest is history.”

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Three60

Quote: “It’s rocket science without rockets or science. We know what you’re thinking. Rocket Science?! Puleese! Alright, fine, it’s a bit grandiose.”

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Show Us Yours!

Do you think your site has excellently crafted copy? Leave a link and a quote below and tell us about the trick you’re using to convince readers of what you’re saying.

Also tell us which of the sites above was your favorite!

Comments & Discussion

56 Comments

  • http://knowledgecity.com Jae Xavier

    I love it when websites are much more sophisticated by their copy rather than design alone.

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  • http://titles.ir Hesam

    Rigorous peer okay
    Thankful

  • http://titles.ir Hesam

    Unfortunately “http://www.stevenlittledesign.com/” open

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  • http://www.kreatech.net Ejaz

    Great inspiring article Joshua, the sites with good copy are great for usability and user experience.

  • http://www.designzillas.com Designzillas

    Great list! We construct a combination of Metaphors, Confidence, and Humor in the copy of our marketing strategy at http://www.designzillas.com.

    We are a HUGE fan of carefully crafted copy to support design and imagery, great article.

    -DZ

  • http://shikebali.co.cc Shikeb Ali

    Wonderful list I enjoyed every scroll.. I got my own line on my portfolio.

    “Fishes swim, thunders strike, winds blow. I design”

    http://shikebali.co.cc

    I’m not a big artist like the designers who created all those above website but I’m learning, and will be there with them soon. (InshaAllah)

  • Bryan

    Great article!

    Check out http://www.tarayost.com for some great copy!

  • http://www.davykestens.be Davy Kestens

    Dribble -> Dribbble ;)

    Thanks for including my ‘beg’-site :D

  • http://thisismonica.carbonmade.com/ monica a.

    great post! I like it when I read copy with humor, there’s no need to be so serious.

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  • http://informationhighwayman.com/ D Bnonn Tennant

    It’s great to see the importance of copywriting getting exposure in the design community. Just bear in mind that identifying good copy isn’t always easy. The only purpose of copy is to sell. So you have to understand the principles of salesmanship to really get to grips with copywriting.

    For example, regarding your advice to “Start with a Question”. This is excellent; a question can make a great headline. But you have to be real careful what the answer is in your reader’s mind. It has to be something that makes him feel like he could lose out by not reading the rest of the copy. So your example, “Are you listening to your customers?” is probably very weak. My first response is “yes”—which is not the answer you want. I don’t see a benefit to reading on, so I leave. The answer that will keep me reading is either “no” (with the implication that I should be answering “yes”); or, better: “uh oh…I’m not sure.”

    You could rephrase the headline to be more effective by saying: “Are you asking your customers what they think?” Or, “Do you know what your customers want?” But those are still pretty weak, because the answer will either still be “yes” (in which case the reader is unlikely to read further), or it’ll be “no”, but with no real implication of a problem or a benefit to give the reader a feeling of urgency.

    A better headline might be: “How can you be sure your customers are happy?” It’s a complex question—there’s no yes/no answer. The only answer the reader can give is either a comprehensive explanation (in his head of course), or “I’m not sure…you tell me!” And as soon as you have your reader thinking “you tell me”, then you’ve got a great chance of him reading on. So make sure you don’t leave him hanging; you gotta tell him.

    An even better headline might incorporate a word that increases the headline’s sense of intrigue or urgency. Playing off curiosity is probably the most powerful way to get your reader into your copy. So how about: “What are your customers secretly not telling you?” People can’t stand not knowing a secret—especially if it has clearly implied ramifications for their own businesses.

    I’d also say that a lot of the examples of intro headers near the bottom of the article are actually very weak. Remember, copy is nothing but salesmanship in print. But look at DazzleCat for example. “We’re DazzleCat and we design, build & host stunning websites.” Sure, it tells the prospect basically what DazzleCat does. But are they really targeting completely unqualified prospects? Surely the prospect already knows this when he gets to their site? What he wants is to know how they can solve his particular problem, and why they are the people to do it. Big friendly welcome blurbs can cost you clients.

    I’m not trying to pick on DazzleCat, mind you. There are hundreds of other design sites out there with similar or worse intro copy. What I’m trying to demonstrate is that, to be most effective, copy should take up the conversation happening in the prospect’s head when he arrives. That conversation doesn’t tend to be “What do you guys do?” Prospects, like everyone, are concerned with themselves; not others. So in DazzleCat’s case, for qualified prospects, the conversation is probably, “Why should I trust you guys to help me with designing, building, and hosting my website?” If you can figure out what your prospect is thinking, and engage with that, you’ll always do well.

    One last thing: be real careful with humor. Humor is definitely great for getting people engaged…but it’s not great for showing that you have what it takes to get the job done. You need to have more than just humor. You need to demonstrate value as well. But if you’re demonstrating value, then humor can be an excellent way to attract the right clients (I do this myself). Just make sure you’re not joking about something which your ideal client takes seriously. People don’t like to joke about spending money, for instance (:

    Most cordially,
    D Bnonn Tennant
    Ace Copywriter & Attention-Thief for hire

  • http://www.dubbedcreative.com/ Steve Worsley

    Thanks for including our site! It’s great to be up there amongst some fantastic designs. The great thing about confident copy is that you’re publicly setting yourself a standard to live up to.

  • http://telek.pp.ua/ Oles

    I like Chopeh site

  • http://www.103graphics.com elmalak

    Well, those examples are truly wonderful and brilliant.

    For my site, I use a simple one, Web design that functions!
    I’ve noticed that a lot times a design would look nice but functions badly, so I decided to focus on creating good designs that behave and function well.

    Not sure if you like this or not, so please, let me know.

    thanks,
    elmalak

  • http://www.chopeh.com Pete Lacey

    Wow, thanks for including my site there :)

    I always found that the copy was always the hardest thing to get right, and is definitely one of my weakest skills. So it means a lot to be included in this list.

    You could have the nicest looking website in the world, but if the content was lifeless and uninspiring; why would anyone read it?

    P.S – My Copenhagen site is slowly working, so thanks for sharing!

  • http://prodigalconcepts.com/ rod rodriguez

    great topic, it’s easy to forget how powerful copies are to your readers. thanks for this post.

  • http://www.leegustin.com Lee Gustin

    Great resource! I have recently redesigned my website and I am still not thrilled about my homepage copy, so these websites gave me some ideas :) thanks

  • http://www.webcreationuk.com/ Web Design

    These are great for inspiration. So smart and convincing… :)

  • http://design977.com Pusparaj

    Nice topic, nice article; nice collections.

  • http://www.InteractivityMarketing.com Gary Henderson

    Great job. I really enjoyed the portfolio of sites with great copy!

  • Lina Jimeno

    Nice topic, I´ve just created one for Hi Media Digital! Check it out and let me know what you think of it! :)

  • Lina Jimeno

    Nice topic, I´ve just created one for Hi Media Digital! Check it out and let me know what you think of it! :)http//:www.himediadigital.com

  • http://www.flockpost.com Puneet Sahalot

    simply superb..!!

  • http://www.corgibytes.com Andrea Goulet

    Great resource! The best advice I’ve received when it comes to web copy is “write like you talk.” It also helps to keep your copy in the present tense, and use more “you” than “we”.

  • http://www.limechalk.com Limechalk Media

    nice! everything looks classy and smart. Check out http://www.limechalk.com too. The site isn’t finished yet. Seriously, it still needs a lot of work, but I hope the entire copy will achieve the same impression these examples get.

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  • http://rajesharma.com Broncha

    Great collection.Great for inspiration.

  • http://bloghelpr.us Guillermo

    Sure you want to see http://bloghelpr.us/, it has a nice intro too.

    Regards.

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  • http://Lyndit.com Lyndit

    Copy gets such a bad rap. People DO read. Especially when the copy is positioned in a way that is appealing and comfortable to the user. Great examples and post.

  • http://semanticpress.com Terry

    Here’s my company site that I designed that delivers a convincing copy (at least that’s the goal)

    http://www.semanticpress.com/

    Disclosure: I’m also the founder.

  • http://www.ksnagra.com Kanwaljit Singh Nagra

    Awesome article, straight to the point with some really good tips!

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  • http://www.nitgreen.com/ nitGreen

    Joshua Johnson,

    Its a great pleasure reading your post.

    Its full of information I am looking for and I love to post a comment that “The content of your post is awesome” Great work.

  • http://www.marketingquotes.co.uk web design costs

    Good post Joshua, very inspiring with good sound advice.

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  • http://www.flair4design.co.uk Web Designer

    Thanks for such an interesting post Joshua. A nice variation on the usual focus on the design side of websites.

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    When see your work. I was shocking.

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