How Squarespace Web Design and Copy Fit Together
Repeat after me: Wordy Web Copy Ruins Your Web Design
When it comes to DIYing your Squarespace website or, if you're a Squarespace web designer, explaining to your client why you must have their copy before you can design, it helps to SEE why too much copy - aka too much text - simply doesn't fit.
No doubt you have a lot to say (or your client does), but it's important that you distill that information for your website.
SEEING IS BELIEVING.
This is one of these blog posts where I don't need to write much. These pictures say it all.
All the screenshots in this blog post are of the home page of the Bedford Template Design. According to Squarespace, Bedford is one of the most popular templates and there's a reason why. It is sleek, functional and has the key features that small service-based businesses and non-profits need.
The image below shows a straight up copy of the original design except that the images and words have been changed.
This web copy is the perfect fit for the Squarespace Bedford template.
Now check out what the design looks like when you start adding too much copy in each of section of the home page.
The image below is even more ridonculous.
Yes, I wrote ridonculous. What?
Think about your own business or freelance work. What is the goal of your website? What do you want your visitors to do when they land on your website?
What could you say in this text overlay that gets straight to the point and gets your visitors taking action - whatever that action is?
In this next image, the section below the banner has a heading and a short body of text. In the Bedford template example, there's a single 40 - 50 word paragraph describing 'what they do.'
Now see what happens when you add several paragraphs to this section.
Your visitors will be all, woah. Eyes hurt! Bye bye!
In the final section of the original Bedford Template home page, there are two images and some descriptive, take action copy. These sections lead to the About Page and a Take Action Page - which would encourage visitors to donate money or volunteer their time.
In the image below, the placeholder images fit the design, but the copy is unbalanced and wordy. It looks ugly.
What do you think your website visitors will do right now (if they're still reading?)
Content* First, then Design
Content = copy & images.
I've asked web designers the chicken and egg question - what comes first - design or copy. They tell me copy (and images) first, then design. I guess it's like fitting together a puzzle. With too much copy, even the best designers will struggle to showcase your message and your site's goal.
Using a Squarespace template means you have the design first, then you add copy. Obviously, you can customize fonts, colours and play with the layout, but the essential design and elements are all there.
For a DIYer who is not a graphic or web designer or who doesn't have 'the designer eye,' being able to build out your site with a gorgeous and functional template should be a blessing. You've chosen the template because you believe it has the features, function and flow that will make it easy for visitors to take action.
Don't ruin your visitor's experience and the look of your Squarespace site with too much copy.
Squarespace web designers, your issue is different. You may use a Squarespace template as a starting point but, unless your client is a copywriter, it's up to you to show your clients why too much copy will ruin the design or make it hard for you to design a functional and attractive Squarespace site.
Show don't tell.
Help your clients understand that they are writing for the web, not for a university class. They need to prune their copy and capture the essence of their message in few words so their ideal clients and customers get in touch with them.
Prepare a sample PDF with images like the above to SHOW your clients why their long-winded copy won't fit the design of the Squarespace template - or any design you create.
Word Counts can help (Ugh word counts.)
Word Counter - Use this free online tool to check your word counts.
Speaking of word counts, you can download my word count cheat sheet in my Squarespace resource library (just sign up below). Keeping track of your word counts will help you build your own Squarespace website.