Although the phrase “less is more” first appeared in a Robert Browning poem in 1855, it only entered the modern lexicon when it was adopted as a mantra by the minimalist architect Mies van der Rohe in 1947. The fact that the phrase is still in common use today is indicative of its simple, powerful message as well as its ability to serve as a guiding philosophy in architecture, literature, art, and—you guessed it—marketing, especially web copy.
Why bother striving for minimalism in your website text? Simply put, today’s website visitors typically do not have the attention spans or inclination to wade through “walls of text” when they reach your website in search of information. If anything, a casual website visitor is looking for high-level, scannable information where they can decide for themselves whether they want to take a deep dive into more in-depth information.
Adopting a “less is more” mentality for crafting your web copy can be challenging, but it’s absolutely worthwhile. It necessitates a nearly ruthless attitude towards cutting and refining text, honing your message to a razor-sharp edge so that a website visitor can absorb your overarching message in a glance. Before you can refine and minimize your text so that it grabs website visitors, you may want to spend some time getting a handle on your firm’s overarching message if you haven’t already: who are you? What is your mission? What are you all about? This can be accomplished through an in-depth messaging session.
As you set about drafting your web copy, it’s important to keep in mind the actual user experience that a potential visitor would have. For example, your home page should ideally communicate who your company is and what it does in a sentence or two, above the fold, with no scrolling required either on a mobile device or a computer.
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Your web copy should be sensibly written according to the overarching theme of the specific webpage that it occupies. If you’re re-writing an existing web site’s text, it’s worth taking a closer look at whether all of your pages are sensibly organized in an easily-navigable, logical hierarchy before setting about writing the actual text itself. If you’re starting from scratch, you should have the entire website’s “site map” sketched out ahead of time, so you can draft your minimalist text within the appropriate context.
None of this is to say that there isn’t a place for lengthier, detailed pieces of text on a website (for example, a blog like this one!). There are always going to be topics, subject matter, and formats on a webpage that warrant a closer, more nuanced approach. Apart from downloadable, data-heavy documents such as fact sheets or white-papers, lengthier pieces of web text can benefit from additional paragraph breaks, large subject headings to facilitate easy browsing, and icons or graphics to help break up what might otherwise appear to be an intimidatingly dense piece of writing.
By maintaining a “less is more” mindset when crafting your website text, you’ll be ensuring an easy, enjoyable browsing experience for your website visitors, who should be able to find the information they’re looking for in a snap!