I am often frustrated with how little attention is put into the messaging on most websites. It seems that you run into two scenarios when faced with web copy. The first is that the website owner has the writing done internally and then edited professionally, and the second is that their is a professional advertising/marketing agency that writes the web copy because budget permits it (however most of the time the copy is better suited for print than the web).
The result of either of these situations is poor and uninspiring web copy. The messaging does not compel you to read it nor does it inspire you to learn any more about the product/service/offering. The worst offenders for what ever reason tend to be web design companies themselves. If I see another “We create beautiful sites based on web standards blah blah blah” headline I just might crack.
Effective web copy must be short, to the point, and focus on the benefits that you are offering the user. It needs to be presented in a way that takes little effort to read/scan, and should immediately give you the option to jump to the next stage of the conversion funnel. From attention to interest, interest to desire, or desire to action, etc…
If you can’t stare at the screen for 10 – 15 seconds and immediately be able to describe the unique value of your product/service than your web copy has failed. Keep in mind that the communication of the unique value will always come from the copy and not the design. A design might tell you something about the quality, attitude, or brand of the site but a design will never tell you that “The unique materials make North Face clothing the strongest and warmest gear with out extra weight or bulk.”
Lets look at a web design company that does it well. WebpageFX has extremely well crafted messaging in their flash header. Despite some potential usability issues, when you do find the good messaging it is very clear, compelling, and professional. Try click on the little circles in the bottom left hand corner and watch the simple clear messages and how they are enhanced by design but not replaced by it.
You understand the benefits of complex services very quickly, including mobile web, analytics, etc…
This could even be done with out flash and still be effective because the simple clear messages work so well. So when in doubt try and simplify what you are saying and really focus on making the value and the benefit clear.