Today I am going to say something shocking. So get ready. You know all those years spent with your head in the books to nab straight A status? We’re gonna throw that out the window. When it comes to website design, you gotta forget all those fancy grammar rules you learned in English class and write to pass the conversion test.
And not just the kind you’re thinking of.
Absolutely, you need to stand out from your literal competitors. You need to strongly convey your unique value proposition so your potential customers know they are in the right spot, no doubt.
But there is another form of competition at play.
Your Silent (Yet Noisy) Competitor
The hundreds of millions of billions of websites, blog posts, social media posts, and emails zipping around the internet.
You’re competing against content.
With the rise of technology, people are now able to consume content quickly. And the amount of new content across the internet webs is steeply increasing.
Here’s the deal: Your website needs to cut through the noise. And fast.
One of the biggest obstacles in the content competition game is your customer’s attention span. Unfortunately, it is getting smaller and smaller despite the rise in content. Based on a 2016 study by Trackmaven of over 22,000 brands across all major industries including 50 million pieces of content across 6 major digital marketing channels – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and blogs – the output of content per brand increased 35% per channel, but content engagement decreased by 17%.
Even more interesting, when the total content output peeked across those 22k brands in October of 2015, content engagement levels took the sharpest downturn.
So what does this have anything to do with grammar?
People don’t have the time or brain power to consume the billions of websites and pieces of content across the entire world wide web, BUT you need your potential customers to slow their roll and consume yours so you can close the deal.
And while what you say (aka copy) is critical in making the sale, how you structure and design what you say is critical in convincing someone to stop the scroll and hear you out.
Put an apology letter in the mail to Mrs. Thompson and throw the grammar rule book out, girlfriend. We’ve got a sale to make!
STOP THE SCROLL
In order to capture the attention of your ideal customer to lead them to the sale, your content (alllllll of your content) needs to be EXTRA easy to digest.
The goal is to stop the scroll.
Capture their attention and hook ‘em in.
To do that visually, you can use a few simple off the grammar grid techniques in your website design to keep your viewers engaged:
- Use Headings.
- And Subheadings.
- Keep paragraphs short.
- And sentences, too.
- Use lists, bullets, and imagery to break up long copy.
- And shake UP your sentences visually with text formatting.
Take note: This entire blog post is written and designed specifically to capture and keep your attention! Scroll back up to the top and slowly scan the article so far. You’ll see all 6 techniques used to break up my copy and highlight the juicy content within to help you fight the urge to scroll and scan and actually hear what I have to say!
The un-grammar techniques of conversion
#1 Use Headings.
Headings are one of the most important website attention-grabbing design tools, yet grossly under-used by pro designers and DIYers alike. “Headings” brings to mind titles at the top of the page. But since we’re throwing out the book, let’s go ahead and decide now that we’re going to embrace a whole new way to
Headings are important to break up content throughout your website pages and posts and help your viewer connect with your content as quickly as possible.
Headings are meant to be BIG and bold and the first to stop the scroll.
Use headings whenever you want to highlight a new concept or compelling content.
For example: Testimonials. They’re kinda like the website design’s version of master bathrooms. Not how they’re used, but in how they’re usually the last of importance in decorating after you move in a new house. Often times homeowners are so done with house projects after getting the major living spaces fixed up that master bathrooms never get re-done. No one sees them, but the people who matter, right?
But if you study the psychology of persuasion, you’ll quickly realize that social proof (testimonials) is deeply hardwired into our decision-making process as humans.
Testimonials have the power to make or break a sale, so don’t make the mistake of throwing a huge paragraph of a testimonial onto a page in hopes that the person who matters will take the time to find it and read it all. You can use headings in your testimonials to highlight the compelling praise! In doing so, you’ll bring attention to the testimonial which naturally intrigues a viewer to read the entire thing!
#2 Use Sub-Headings.
YOU WOULDN’T MAKE A WHOLE SENTENCE OR MULTIPLE SENTENCES A HEADING LIKE THIS. BECAUSE THAT WOULD BE OBNOXIOUS AND TOO HARD TO READ, right?
That’s why we use sub-headings. 😉
Think of sub-headings as taglines. They offer a little more clarity into what the heading is about while breaking up the heading content visually.
#3 Keep paragraphs short.
As content continues to increase, so does the rate at which consumers are scanning. We just don’t have time to read long drawn out essay style content these days.
So keep your paragraphs short!
Break them up. Even into one or two lines of text. It is much easier for the viewer to quickly digest smaller paragraphs to keep their attention.
#4 Keep your sentences short, too.
Same concept here. But this one will really throw my strict grammar pals for a loop. You don’t even always have to use full proper sentences. Sometimes you can use just one tiny word in the place of an entire sentence. Take this line straight from the very post you’re reading, “Your website needs to cut through the noise. And fast.”
“And fast.” That isn’t a sentence. But it called out a compelling emotion and got the point across. Quickly. See what I did there? 😉
Pro Tip: Mind your body copy spacing. Your line height and the space between each paragraph matters. Give them ample breathing room!
#5 Use lists, bullets, and imagery to break up long copy.
Breaking up your copy with lists, bullets, and imagery helps break up your copy in a couple ways for your viewer:
- They help break up traditional paragraph copy like headings and subheadings do to keep your reader engaged in what you have to say.
- They add visual interest to what you have to say. This is especially true for imagery which has the power to emotionally convey what you have to say in a deeper way.
Imagery covers a multitude of visuals from actual images to video to icons and graphics. Although pretty, the main goal of imagery in a website is to draw attention and strengthen the message. Use them intentionally to bring your brand messaging, personality, and website copy full circle visually!
#6 Shake UP your sentences visually with text formatting.
Just like headings, subheadings, lists, and imagery are used to break up larger chunks of website copy to engage a reader, text formatting helps call attention to important phrases and stop words within sentences.
By simply changing the text formatting for certain words you want to highlight, you will naturally help guide your potential customers to important points in your copy.
- Use bold text to highlight stand out points and concepts.
- Use italic text to bring out the personality in your writing and brand tone of voice.
- And shake it UP when you need to with ALL CAPS! Just don’t do it in full sentences, mkay?
Really, there are no rules for when to use bold text, italic text, all caps, and other forms of text formatting. The point is to use them wisely to call out important facts, figures, and the juicy stuff you need your potential customer to read so they will continue along the journey to the sale!
Curious to know if your website actually converts? Download your free copy of The Fast & Free Way to Figure Out if Your Website Converts to learn how to use the same free tool the pros use to visually see what on their website converts and what needs to be tweaked in real time (Hint: This is NOT about Google Analytics!).