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Words and Pictures – The Importance of Copy and Imagery to a Web Design

2018 marks a milestone for Platform81. This year is P81’s tenth year in business, and one of the ways this occasion has been marked is with a full overhaul of the website.

As the freelance copywriter hired to help out on this project, I’ve been asked to explain some of the decisions behind this re-launch. I could spend hours explaining all of the design choices the team made when it came to the site’s architecture and layout, or the hard work the developers put in bringing the design vision to life.

Instead, I’d like to cover to two aspects of the site that are often overlooked.

The imagery and the copy. Words and pictures.

Giving a Website a Personality

For the site’s photography and the written content, Platform81 had one overarching goal. Represent the personality, skill and passion that’s powered them for the past decade. The people.

Straight away, that meant that they couldn’t just head over to Shutterstock for pictures of standard office scenes, and reel off a load of old guff about being a “one stop solutions shop.” That’s been done before. If P81 wanted a site with personality, they’d need to make things personal.

Platform81 in Action – The Imagery

If you’ve looked at any of the pictures on the website, you’ll have noticed that they’ve all got something in common. They show off P81’s team, and they show off Stockport.

A key aspect of Platform81’s personality as a company is that they’re rightfully proud of where they come from. Sleek, glossy pictures with brushed aluminium and frameless glass wouldn’t scream “Stockport.”

Instead they grabbed a camera, gathered the team, and did a tour of their favourite locations.

Key to this personality-led imagery is making sure that as many pictures as possible had team members front and centre. Or at least loitering in the middle distance. Again, that personality word was front of mind. Friendly and approachable, not smug and aloof. So that meant leapfrog on the bollards, not glossy headshots with cheesy grins.

Once the subject of the imagery had been chosen, it was a case of making sure the pictures themselves lived up to the brand. Natural light and a soft focus looks a world away from glossy and corporate anyway, but after a filter with P81’s brand colours was overlaid, the end results looked urban, gritty and 100% Stockport.

“Northern Charm” – The Copy

With the visual personality set and sorted, attention turned to the wording on the website. Writing engaging top-line copy takes real skill. Everyone on the team had their own ideas, but Platform81 brought in some outside help to make sure they could really nail their tone of voice.

After looking at a few options, a decision was made to hire someone from a few miles down the road that provided copywriting services. Yours truly, Andrew from 603 Copywriting.

In my initial meeting with Alec and James, we agreed on a few ground rules for the brand tone of voice. Confident in their skills, but never boastful. Open and friendly, but never fake. Grounded, but with big ideas. During our planning meeting, this tone was labelled “Northern Charm,” and I think that sums up Platform81 pretty well. Luckily for someone with lots to write on a tight deadline, they agreed!

One of the simplest ways to convey a bit of warmth in your written tone of voice is also one of the simplest ways to make Alec grit his teeth. Say goodbye to some of your English teacher’s rules.

Sentences starting with a preposition? But of course!

Contractions and colloquialisms all over the shop? You betcha!

If you read the Platform81 website out loud, you’ll have a good idea of how they sound when they pick up the phone (allowing for accents), and that’s the mark of any good tone of voice.

Bringing it All Together

With a stack of amazing images, and a document filled with Northern charm, all that was left for them to do was make sure everything worked together in the context of the design.

I think it does, the P81 team think it does, and we all think this is especially true when we talk about the team.

If you visit the “Who We Are” page, you’ll see words and pictures working together. Whether it’s Nick grinning as his bio invites you for a beer, Ryan’s thousand-yard stare as his write-up explains the misery of being a Birmingham fan, or Caroline’s knowing smile next to the line “every trick in the book,” we think this page gets across just how the copy and imagery really come together to make a website we’re proud of.

We hope you like it just as much!

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