The Most Important Rule of Website Design and Copywriting

What is this page about? It took me a few years to understand this simple concept. A visitor to a page on your website should understand what the page is about within a few seconds.

The concept is simple: Show and Tell visitors what a page is about.

But in practice this is difficult.

What Is This Page About?

I’ve been involved in a few website design processes. Some were my own. Others were for friends. Some were for other companies. Only recently did I really start to understand the concept of asking the question – What is this page about? – throughout the process.

Too often, we get caught up in the elements of the design. We worry about looks. As someone always involved in the business, we already understand what each page is about. The important fact to remember is that most visitors to your site are seeing the page for the first time. Think of each page on your website as if it were a journey.

The Website Journey

A visitor comes to a page. They may have come from a far away land like Google, Facebook or from an email a friend forwarded them. This person is seeing this page and your business for the very first time. They are clueless or have very little background information about you. This is the important moment.

The Decision

Within a few seconds, this person will decide if your site is interesting. People are fickle. People are especially fickle on the Web. They will leave you in a heartbeat if you aren’t interesting and they will have no regrets. This is why it’s important to really convey the message of each page within a few seconds for each visitor. It is difficult to do this. It sounds easy, but it takes a combination of design and text to really allow a visitor to go through a journey on your web page.

Now, if you are able to capture the attention of your visitor, the journey will continue.

The Scan

The person will next scan the page. They are trying to take in a bit more information about the page. They aren’t fully committed yet, but they are close.

The Content Consumption

Once a visitor finds your page interesting after the scan phase they will dive deeper. They will start taking in more content (images, text, etc.) on the page. This is another critical point in the journey. The visitor needs to perform an action.

The Action

The visitor, in the best case scenario, will want to contact your site or even make a purchase! Make sure your journey allows this to happen. The visitor might want to share the page. This is good too. Make sure this action is allowed.

The Most Important Rule of Website Design and Copywriting

The important thing to remember is that your visitor will want to do something. You also have a next step action in mind. The goal of the content on the page is to make sure the visitor’s action and your desired action are the same.

It is the goal of every Web page to take website visitors through a journey and end with a desireable outcome that is shared by visitor and website owner.

The journey begins within the first few secconds. You need to answer the question, What is this page about? A few examples…



From this home page on Patagonia I can tell that this is about doing amazing things. Sometimes all it takes is an image. The journey starts with the image. I understand that this person is doing something amazing with pretty cool outdoor gear. I read more. I start searching….



I like the use of a headline here. The call to action is good too. There is enough contact to get me involved. Then I know right where to take next steps. (ht – SEOmoz)

Nike Golf

Nike Golf

Why yes. I do enjoy those long walks. Tell me how I can experience this more often. (ht – Nike Golf)

About the Author: Dayne Shuda

Dayne Shuda is a content strategist and blogger. He is the founder of Ghost Blog Writers. Website: Twitter: @DayneShuda

Dayne Shuda

Dayne Shuda

Owner of Ghost Blog Writers.

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