Understanding Web Copy and Its Crucial Role in WordPress Design

February 6, 2024

Understanding Web Copy and Its Crucial Role in WordPress Design

When starting on the journey of building a new WordPress website or redesigning an existing one, the importance of well-crafted web copy cannot be overstated. Often, the focus tends to lean heavily towards aesthetic elements like layout and graphics. However, the textual content, or “copy,” of a WordPress website serves as the foundational structure around which all other elements are built. This post explains what web copy entails, why it should precede design layouts, the importance of organizing a sitemap before crafting content, and the processes involved in creating sitemaps and copy, whether done internally or through a professional copywriter. Overall, web copy forms the core messaging of your website, and no matter how visually appealing your design might be, it won’t resonate with your audience without the right text.

What is Web Copy?

Web copy refers to the text that guides, informs, and engages users on a website. This encompasses all text on the website from the home page text and product descriptions to blog posts and FAQs. Good web copy does more than just describe – it persuades, convinces, and triggers emotional responses that can lead to conversions or action by your user.

Why Copy Comes Before Design

In the web development process, content should ideally dictate design, not the other way around. 

Here’s why:

  1. Purpose-Driven Design: Understanding what message needs to be communicated helps designers create interfaces that enhance the delivery of that message rather than overshadow it.
  2. User Experience (UX): Good copy contributes significantly to UX by helping users navigate the site intuitively. If the copy is clear and compelling, the design can be tailored to streamline the user journey, leading to better user engagement and satisfaction.
  3. SEO Benefits: Search engines index content, not graphics. Having your web copy in place early helps in optimizing for SEO from the ground up, ensuring that design elements support text visibility and accessibility.

The Role of the Visual Sitemap

A visual sitemap is essentially a blueprint or a map of a website’s structure.   It is an organized list of all the pages on a website and typically depicts the hierarchy between pages.  It can sometimes also be referred to as an information architecture (IA) proposal in user experience terms. It outlines all the main pages and subpages, showing how they are interconnected. The sitemap serves as a planning tool that allows website creators, developers, and stakeholders to visualize the structure of a website. The creation of a sitemap is a critical first step before writing copy for several reasons:

  • Clarity and Vision: It provides a clear framework for what content needs to be developed and how it should be structured.
  • Efficiency in Design: Designers can create more accurate mockups and prototypes when they understand the site’s structure.
  • Avoids Overdesign: Without a sitemap, there is a tendency to overdesign or create redundant pages that dilute the user’s focus.

A typical sitemap might include:

  • Home Page: The starting point of the sitemap, representing the primary landing page of the website.
  • Parent Pages: Major categories or sections of the website, often represented as the main menu items.
  • Child Pages: Subcategories of specific topics under each parent category, showing a deeper level of detail.
  • Utility Pages: These include contact forms, privacy policies, and other necessary but less prominent pages.

Examples of Sitemaps

To illustrate how sitemaps are structured, here are a few examples based on common types of websites:

E-commerce WooCommerce Website

Header Menu:

  1. Home
  2. Products
    • Men’s Clothing
      • Shirts
      • Pants
      • Accessories
    • Women’s Clothing
      • Dresses
      • Tops
      • Accessories
  3. About Us
  4. Contact Us

Footer Menu:

  1. FAQ
  2. Privacy Policy
  3. Terms of Service
  4. Shipping Information
  5. Returns & Exchanges

Educational Institution WordPress Website

Header Menu:

  1. Home
  2. Admissions
    • Undergraduate
    • Graduate
    • International Students
  3. Departments
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
  4. Alumni

Footer Menu:

  1. Campus Life
  2. Contact Us
  3. Privacy Policy
  4. Careers
  5. Accessibility

As you can see, creating a sitemap doesn’t have to be overly complex; it can be as straightforward as determining which menu items should be included in the WordPress website’s header (top menu) and footer (bottom menu).

DIY vs. Professional Sitemap and Copy Creation

Clients often face the decision of whether to write their own sitemaps and copy or hire a professional copywriter. Here’s what each process typically entails:

Client-Created Sitemap and Copy:

  • Process: The client outlines their vision of the website based on their understanding of their business and customer needs. This often involves drafting a sitemap and initial web copy.
  • Advantages:
    • Cost-Effective: Generally cheaper since no external professionals are hired.
    • Personal Touch: Allows for a more personal representation of the brand’s voice, assuming the client is a good writer.
  • Disadvantages:
    • Time-Consuming: It can divert the client’s focus from other business activities.
    • Quality Risks: Without the requisite skills, both the sitemap and copy may not be optimized for user engagement or SEO.

Professional Copywriter:

  • Process: A professional copywriter, often working with a designer, develops a detailed sitemap and high-quality copy based on best practices and industry standards.
  • Advantages:
    • Professional Quality: Ensures that the content is engaging, well-written, and effective in SEO.
    • Efficiency: Professionals can deliver ready-to-use copy and a structured sitemap quickly.
  • Disadvantages:
    • Higher Cost: Professional services are an additional expense.
    • Less Personal: Might lack some of the intimate brand knowledge that a business owner possesses, although this can be mitigated through good communication.

Our Team’s Approach to Sitemap and Homepage Copy

At our agency, we require the final sitemap and an initial draft of the homepage copy before beginning the design. This approach allows us to:

  • Align Design with Content: We ensure that the design complements and enhances the readability and effectiveness of the copy.
  • Streamline the Development Process: Having a clear direction from the start speeds up the design process and reduces revisions.
  • Focus on User Needs: By understanding the content structure and primary messages first, we can tailor the user experience to meet the expected outcomes.

To ensure the highest quality and efficiency in our web design process, we require fairly final copy to design any additional page mockups included in the project. This means that before we proceed to create detailed designs for each page, we need the copy to be near its final form. This approach allows us to tailor the design closely to the content, ensuring that both elements work harmoniously to convey your message effectively. As we approach the launch, it is crucial to have the final copy ready. Having the definitive text allows us to make the necessary adjustments and ensure that all aspects of the website, from typography to layout, are perfectly aligned with the content.

The intersection between sitemap, web copy, and website design is intricate and indispensable. While the temptation might be to dive right into the visual aspects of site building, a content-first approach is critical for creating effective and user-friendly WordPress websites. Whether opting to handle sitemap and copy creation internally or through professional services, the aim should always be to lay a solid foundation upon which a successful WordPress website can be built.

Matt Schwartz is an accomplished entrepreneur and technology expert based in Atlanta, Georgia. He is the founder and CEO of Inspry, a WordPress and WooCommerce web development and maintenance web agency that has been providing cutting-edge technology solutions to clients since 2011. With over a decade of experience in the industry, Matt has become a respected figure in the web development community and has helped numerous businesses achieve their digital goals.