7 ways to be playful with your website content

Ditch the drab and start penning playful copy with our guide to injecting fun into your website.  

Your website has to be many things: the salesperson, the assistant, the administrator. All these things are Dull (with a capital D), but that doesn’t mean your copy has to be. In fact, it demands that you compensate for its dowdiness.

Brightening up your ‘online brochure’ isn’t as challenging as you may think. It’s often the subtle touches that make your customers smile the most; and if they’re smiling, they’re on side.  So what am I suggesting? Let’s take a peek…

1. Design cheerful 404 pages

Even with the best of intentions, most websites will return a 404 (page not found) message every once in a while, before you get the opportunity to set up a redirect. For your customer (or prospect) this is beyond frustrating. Fortunately, you have the power to change the message the visitor will see to something that lightens the mood.

This 404 page from Lego is a prime example of how everything can be awesome. A clever use of imagery and a nod to their Lego Movie catchphrase is all it takes to create a better user experience and give the opportunity for a continued journey through their website.

Lego 404 page

2. Make your checkout more of an experience

Your customer is committed enough to buying that they’ve stuffed their shopping basket full of your goodies. Help to seal the deal by reminding them that you’re a business with personality.

Add inspiring messages like ‘Oh that’s going to look good on you’ ahead of the ‘buy now’ button, and reaffirm with the confirmation message: ‘Hi-five girlfriend!’

3. Choose a fun email address

You have all the options in the world when it comes to deciding on your email address, and while it pays to keep it short, why do 99% of businesses settle on info@boringwebsite.com? Email is still one of the main ways we communicate with small businesses, so if it’s likely to be your customers’ first introduction to your company – make it count.

Be more welcoming with Hello@morefunwebsite.com, or creatively relevant with TellMeMore@intriguingwebsite.com or TicketsPlease@eventswebsite.com. Whatever you choose, make sure it aligns to your brand and make it prominent on your site so it’s easy to contact you.

4. Build non-formulaic forms

Why should email addresses have all the fun? Forms deserve in on the action too. They’re one of the few things on your website that your customers will interact with, and often don’t want to – so make the process less painful by teasing a smile with light-hearted copy.

How? Start by switching up the old-fashioned title from ‘Contact us’ to ‘Drop us a line’ or ‘We want to hear from you’.  Add quirky field descriptions, like ‘Don’t forget the +44’ in the phone number field or ‘Tell us what’s up…’ in the message field.  And use the confirmation message as a sort of punchline: ‘Thanks for contacting, friend. We’ll get back to you in a jiffy!’

5. Brighten up your shop front with engaging meta descriptions

In recent updates Google is said to have deprioritised the meta description in its algorithm. This frees up the possibility of using the description more creatively to entice prospects in through your digital front door. Instead of stuffing full of keywords, use your page descriptions to tell customers what they can expect from your brand. Above is a great example from HBO.

6. Reel in subscribers with a playful push

If you offer a subscription service, your copy has to work hard to compel a user to sign up. You need to be able to first stop them in their tracks. I came across this excellent example while researching this very blog. eConsultancy’s subscription message literally made me ‘hold my horses’, reversing my well-honed speed scroll in a double take to read more.

Search Engine Journal Subscription message

7. Write with wit in your about us page

If there’s anywhere that should ooze personality on your website, it’s the About us page. This is where prospects will be going to decide if you’re ‘Their kinda people’. Images can play a big part in injecting fun, with cheeky rollover profile pics or highly-styled comic photography. Take a look at this Doomtree About us page (kudos to Search Engine Journal for finding it). The cheeky header image completely encapsulates the captivating copy, which tells of a ‘mess of friends from Minneapolis’ who became a ‘real, live (record) label with international distribution’.

Doomtree About us page header

Of course, while playing is great, it’s important to caveat everything above with the need for balance. Too much playful talk can get cringey or infuriating (say whaaaaat?) and choosing playfulness over usability is likely to lose, rather than gain custom. Try not to tip the scale too much to avoid coming across as a slapstick punchline.

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(With thanks to the Pineapple Supply Co for the header image)

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