3 Essential Elements of a Client-Grabbing Design Website

So you have a web site set up for your design business. It features your amazing portfolio, has a sleek, snazzy design to it, and a beautifully put-together contact form.

The only problem is… the contact form rarely, if ever, gets used. Your bounce rate is higher than a super-inflated basketball.

And it’s just not doing the one thing it needs to: Bringing you more business.

This article will help get you on track to having a web site that serves as an automated-client-grabbing machine. It’ll bring you business day and night. That way you can do what you do best: create amazing designs for people. And you won’t have to spend your time and energy scouring the Internet and your local area for clients. So, without further ado…

The 3 crucial elements:

1. Targeted, benefit-driven copy.

A super-successful design website isn’t all about the look and feel. It’s just as much about the words on the page. Clients want to know why that awesome look and feel is important. They want to know why they should pick you, and how you’ll impact their business.

That’s why every page of your website needs to have benefit-driven copy explaining all of this. Now, if you’re very familiar with copywriting, this will be a refresher course. But if you’re not familiar with it at all – or just a little bit – this could really take your website to the next level.

Benefit-driven copy means your copy answers the question: “so what?” Okay, so you have 10 years experience in design… So what? Why should a client care?

People don’t fill in these gaps themselves. Or, at least, they don’t fill them in as nicely as you can.

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Here’s what I mean…The “so what” test

Let’s say site #1 and site #2 are both designers with 10 years experience.

Site 1 says: “I have 10 years experience and a degree in graphic design.”

Site 2 says: “In my 10 years of experience – I’ve had the opportunity to work with businesses of every kind. And in doing so – I’ve learned what kinds of designs actually make businesses more successful. So when you work with me, you’re not just getting something that looks awesome… It’ll also boost your bottom line, too.”

See how site #2 fleshes out why having 10 years experience is so important? And how it answers the question “so what?” The simplest, most effective method of testing your copy is putting it against the “so what” test. If your copy doesn’t answer this question – ditch it, or change it.

2. Credibility

Credibility is great for a couple of reasons. First off, it makes it much easier to charge higher prices. Second, it lowers buyer resistance because prospects will trust you more. You can quickly establish credibility in a few ways. One of the most pertinent, and obvious, is through testimonials. When people see how your designs have effected others in a positive light – they’ll be much more open to trusting you with their project, too.

You’ll want to feature your testimonials in the best light possible. And when asking for testimonials (which you do frequently of course… right?) it’s okay to guide your client to give certain answers.

Now, before you think I’m talking about manipulation or anything like that, let me explain. See, without knowing it, clients often give us amazing compliments that could turn into brilliant testimonials. But sit them down in front of a computer, and ask them to type one, and they’ll come out with something dull, lifeless, and fake-sounding. So you could even ask your client to include what they told you the other day about how perfect the logo is for the personality of his company. Or how using your post card design tripled the response rate. Stuff like that.

But it doesn’t stop with testimonials. There’s an even more powerful way of establishing credibility…

It’s called understanding.

If the copy on your site shows your potential client that you really understand their problems, and that you truly want to help, they’ll want to work with you before they even see a single testimonial.

But understanding requires research. And to do that research, you’re going to have to talk to your past and current clients and find out what makes them tick. Find out why they came to you in the first place… What frustrations they were experiencing… What they wanted to get out of a designer… The benefits they received in working with you… And how the design you created for them changed their businesses / lives in other ways.

Finding Patterns

Get enough answers, and you’ll start to notice some patterns. A lot of people will express the same kinds of frustrations, and the same kinds of benefits. This is good. The more similarities you find – the more you’re beginning to understand what makes your target market tick.

Then, when you’ve collected enough data – include your findings in your web copy. Write about how you can help them solve these problems. Write about how you’ve helped others in their shoes. Before you know it, your site will be filled with irresistible copy. And when your target market comes across your site – you’ll show them the most powerful form of credibility: a true connection.

3. Call to Action

This leads us to our final secret for a successful design website. Many sites simply list a number, or have a contact form – but with no explanation of why someone is contacting them, or what will happen when they call. Often people will simply not call because they sub-consciously have this fear of the unknown. They’re just not sure what happens when they call, or who they’ll speak with.

But having a clear-cut call to action can easily eliminate this problem. A clear-cut call to action can be made in two simple steps:

1. Decide on what you want to offer your prospects

A free design assessment? Consultation? 15 minute website critique? Come up with some kind of offer, and with benefit-driven copy, explain the “so what” factor.

For example: “Call now for a free design assessment. You can tell me all about your design needs, and I’ll let you know exactly what I have to offer to help you and your business succeed to the best of my ability.”

Get the drift? Now, part 2 is even simpler.

2. Tell’em what to do

In clear, easy-to-understand words, tell your prospects what to do.

For example: “Call 111.222.3333 right now for your free design assessment. I’ll answer the phone personally, and most likely we can figure out the best solution for you and your business right then and there.”

Or something like that. I’m sure you get the drift.

Share your thoughts

I’m sure you can think of other things that go into a successful website design too, but I think you’ll find that all of those other things circulate around these core three.

Think I’m way off here? Agree with me completely? Have any cool insights or revelations as you were reading? Have any questions? Share’em! Let us know! You never know who else might have your question, or who could benefit from your comment.

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About David Tendrich

David Tendrich is the co-head of creative agency Unexpected Ways, as well as the co-founder of Reliable PSD: the first-ever PSD to HTML & PSD to Wordpress service run by designers, for designers. He co-runs his companies from Portland, Oregon with his lovely wife and biz partner, Lou Levit.


More about David’s business: David is co-founder of Reliable PSD – what happened when a group of designers got fed up with PSD to Code companies… and created their own. Check them out, and see why freelancers & agencies are head over heels for this amazing new service.


  1. This was really good. Thank you! I’ve slowly but surely been reworking much of the copy throughout my site and these tips will help me fine tune things even more. I’ve recently gotten some great testimonials that I want to integrate. But I do need to work on a clearer call to action – and currently the only thing coming from my contact form is the sound of crickets!

    • @Future Primitive Graphics,

      Hey there! I’m glad these tips helped you out 🙂 Would you like to share your call to action? Maybe I can offer some tips.

      Hope you have a great night,

      • @David Tendrich, thank you David. That is very kind. In all honesty, I’m actually in the process of doing some re-branding of myself – so to speak – so I believe my call to action is going to shift a bit. Seems that the market is just so saturated with designers, I’m looking to integrate some different certification to potentially bring a bit more value to the table. I believe what I am looking to do will actually play quite well with my design work but we shall see. I’m still researching my options but it feels good:)

        • @Future Primitive Graphics,

          Hey, I hear ya. Good for you for taking steps to reach your goals 🙂

          On a side note… In my experience I’ve found that just really understanding what your target market is going through, and communicating to them that you really want to help, is more powerful than any certification.

          Back that up with great testimonials, and a nice portfolio, and it’s bullet-proof. The market may have gazillions of designers – but few can pull away from the pack.

          On the other hand, if this certification really calls out to you, and it’s something you really feel inspired to get – I say go for it! But I think it’s important to note that I think you can be super successful without it.

          In fact, my success started going up and up and up when I left college. It actually held me back.

          Whatever you choose, best of luck, and I hope it works out really, really well for you 🙂


  2. Wow…advice that is actually useful and implementable…thanks!!

  3. David you are AWESOME. I wrote copy for a number of years, a number – ahem – of years ago and I totally fail to use it when it comes to selling myself!! My website was just thrown together to have a place to put some samples and I never send it to anyone because I KNOW everything you just said is so very true. Now I know that redesign is a must and adding the copywriter/editor information is something I must also do as I enjoy that even more than designing. Thanks for the inspiration. Kati

  4. Great post David. I’ve been freelancing for 9 years now and was always too busy to bother making my own website. Just this week I finally decided enough is enough and started putting something together. Then I came across your post. It couldn’t have come at a better time. Your 3 points will help me create killer copy.

  5. Fantastic post. Great read and lots of usefull information. Thank you!


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