I’ve never been a big fan of the word “copy”. It sounds so cold and clinical, like something that gets churned out by a computer at a hundred thousand words per minute, or like some drab off-white paint you buy in buckets and roll over blank spots on a wall. But my biggest problem with the word “copy” is that it subtly implies some less than noble intent, as opposed to, say, just “writing”.
That’s because these days copy is so often reduced to being a tool in the SEO arsenal. It’s less about warmly guiding the user through your web site and more about boosting your rankings. What’s the keyword theme of your page? Is the copy optimized to broadcast appropriate authority signals to the search engines? Will the copy help your site rank highly in the SERPs? SEO first, user experience second. That’s the attitude.
Let’s be real—we’ve all had to write SEO copy before, and we’ll probably have to do it again. But it’s definitely something we should be working to extinguish for good. A copywriter’s job is to protect the integrity of the writing and, ultimately, the reader. Let the SEOs worry about search engine rankings. Let the designers design. We want to challenge agencies everywhere to stop filling websites with SEO copy and start filling them with great writing.
Not sure what the differences are between SEO copy and great writing (that also happens to be optimized for search)? No problem. Here’s what to look for:
Most people know what it's like to get fired. It's happened to nearly everyone, even if it was just from a part-time job in college. And for those who don't know what it's like directly, you can probably imagine.
Getting fired sucks. It's a direct hit—to your self-esteem, to your self-worth, and to your ego. It's not just the loss of income, but also a loss of dignity. It hurts—even if you deserved it, even if you didn't want the job anymore, and even if your boss was a monster.
On the flip side, if you're a good person, being the one responsible for firing someone sucks as well. I usually can't sleep for weeks before someone gets fired, and the weeks after aren't much better. Firing someone is one of the most impactful things you can do to a person and should never be taken lightly or without due cause.
With that said, you can only imagine how I feel about the hiring and firing mentality that dominates digital agency culture. Not only is it disheartening, but the fact that this is the norm in the industry aggravates and confounds me.
Below are a few reasons why I disagree with this culture and how I think it can be changed for the better.
We are no longer anticipating a post desktop world. We're living in it. Day by day, the number of devices, platforms and browsers we have to design for is growing and changing. We now have to think about how our sites will look on a desktop, laptop, tablet, phone, Google Glass, iWatch and whatever comes next.
Now many companies are scrambling to find solutions for their five, ten or even three-year-old sites to quickly adapt their web presence to meet the “in the moment” needs and expectations of mobile users.
Here comes responsive design with its unrestricted screen size approach as the savior to our mobile ills. Easily found, easily shared, easier to maintain and build and cheaper in the long run, it offers the best of both desktop and mobile experiences with greater consistency of brand experience across all devices.
However, does responsive design truly live up to the legend that has been built up about it in the industry?
In the ancient city of Rome, behind the Pantheon, sits a tiny tailor shop that has crafted the Pope’s garments since 1798. Six generations of the Gammarelli family have been charged with fabricating his hats, robes and even his socks—socks made from the finest wool or cotton lisle, hand-linked and reinforced in the heels and toes, worn only once before being discarded.
Why such a laborious task for such an insignificant article of clothing? Why so much effort for a pair of hosiery that can barely be seen? Why not just get a pair of Gold Toes or any other generic sock and be done with the whole arduous ordeal?
Because socks matter, damn it.
Socks, like any fine detail, possibly reveal more about someone than anything else. Though the more popular idiom is that the, “Devil is in the Details,” the phrase, “God is in the Details,” is just as true. If you’re willing to embrace the small things, you will be better prepared to achieve the bigger and greater ones. Here are a few reasons why we should take it easy on the Birkenstocks and flip-flops and embrace socks as a secret weapon in our march toward victory.
They can be seen in every office. Early in the morning. Late at night. Sending emails at 3:30 a.m. when the rest of us are sleeping peacefully in our beds. They are the office super people, taking on tremendous challenges and working harder, longer and smarter than anyone else to ensure the greatness of all, often without thanks.
We think it's time to change this.