When starting an online store, content is a frequently underrated yet vital aspect of the website creation process. We consistently tell our clients that we need content for the site completed within the first one to two months of a project—otherwise, it is the area most likely to slow down a site launch. Make sure you’re paying attention to these areas of website content when preparing to launch your eCommerce site.
A clear brand voice is absolutely crucial in determining how all copy and imagery should look and feel across the site, and really, across all marketing efforts. Is your brand Fun and Quirky? Luxurious and Exclusive? Sweet and Sexy? Hopefully during the branding process, you’ve answered these questions, but if not, now is definitely the time.
Asana’s brand voice embodies who they are in four main characteristics, as shown in this illustration:
Once you’ve established the core essence of your brand voice, find photography and write some sample copy that fits that voice. For instance, what would your brand voice say when someone wants to purchase an item? How about when someone wants to return something? What about greeting someone? Is it Hi, Hey, Hello, Yo, What’s Up, or something else altogether?
These seemingly small phrases add up into your brand personality. A mood board of photography and phrases, while not required, can be a valuable visual resource not only for the website but also for your team to know who you, as a company, truly are.
This moodboard for Portland Apron Company by Taiga Press has a limited palette and a distinct style. It also gives a great sense of photographic style.
Once you’ve established your brand voice, it becomes infinitely easier to know what kind of photography your site needs. Reference a few of your favorite top photographers, look at their level of photography for images that match your brand voice, and aspire to reach that level with your own.
This moodboard for Beauty & The Beast, by Jamie Barker Photography, captures the essence of the brand and what the imagery should evoke emotionally in the viewer.
If you’re doing it yourself, keep it simple and clean with good lighting. If you can’t afford a photographer, reach out to friends who are photographers and ask them how they would set up the shoot. If you can’t afford models, ask your friends who would be a good fit for your brand. Be resourceful!
Always have a list of photographs that are needed as well — it keeps things on schedule and allows you to be efficient with the shoot. Also, make sure to know if you want lifestyle shots, lookbook shots with a model, and/or lay downs, as well as what angles you’ll need for each. Planning out your needs and establishing a level of quality for which to aspire are the first steps (and in some ways, the most important) to nailing the photography down.
Once you’ve clarified your brand voice, go through this core list of content areas to make sure you’re covering all pages of the site:
- Home (navigation, footer, and email sign up)
- Products (title, details, colors, etc)
- About (tell a story about your brand)
- Contact (what do you want out of this page? potential wholesalers?)
- FAQs (vital to alleviate customer service issues)
- Shipping and Returns (also very important to alleviate customer service issues)
- Terms and conditions (ask your lawyer)
- All emails for shipments, returns, confirmations, newsletters, etc.
Of course, this content will vary from site to site, but having a list of these pages on hand will keep you organized. Once you’ve written your content, run it through the “does that fit our brand voice” filter. If your brand were a person, would they say that? If not, think about editing copy to match that voice. The only exceptions are pages influenced by lawyers—always make sure those are done by your lawyer and have you fully protected.
When potential clients come to us and have difficulties with their budgets on starting their web presence, the first thing I tell them is to invest in great content above all else. You can use a Shopify template in the short-term, but great content will stand the test of time through website iterations as your company grows.
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