5 Lessons From A Website Update That Went Viral [Case Study]

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Every now and then, a website update goes live, allowing contestants to slap themselves on the forehead, saying, “Huh, I wish I had done that!”

Earlier this year, such a site was launched by a copywriter in the UK.

John Ryder of Fullstopnewparagraph launched his new site one day in January. When he woke up the next morning, his site was tweeted and retweeted hundreds of times, praised by copywriters and designers from all corners of the earth.

To see how it looks, you can either see the GIF below or click it on the link above to see it for yourself. Make sure you are on a desktop / laptop, as it will do something different on mobile.

FSNP Copy Writing Demo
I recently asked John a few questions about the site in hopes of helping you replicate, at least to some extent, his success the next time you plan a redesign or launch a website .

Q: What motivates you to opt out of the standard copywriter’s website? (Ie the image of a typewriter, the message that says, “Lost for words? I’ll help you find them,” etc.)

A: As you say, those sites are standard, and it just looks average to me. I wanted to share something that works in seconds. I am a writer, yet I accept that some people read more than one sentence these days.

By making it interactive, people have got hope and they have got the message that before they realize that they are reading anything. It was also important that it was almost all typographic. It has portfolio illustrations, but I don’t want them to deviate from the writing.

Lesson # 1:

Being a writer, it makes perfect sense that John wanted to showcase his talent with words. However, many authors are reasonably concerned that a portfolio website that has block after text block is not a great solution. By coming to things from a new angle, John was able to reverse this problem on his head and demonstrate an understanding of his target audience.

Question: Your new site went viral on Twitter. 

A: The response was incredible. I woke up and, until I slept in America, Australia, was a designer and writer, and was talking about it everywhere.

The designer was She’s Only [some of her other works were pictured below], and they were definitely contacting people from behind it. As you say, words are an element, but the developers and designers were there who brought it to life.

They did a great job and I realized how much work is. I’m not clear about coding, so Johnny in the studio created the homepage entirely from scratch.

I don’t know how much traffic she was receiving as a result only, but in her first week I received more than 70,000 visits compared to a few months before the relay.

Lesson # 2:

Never underestimate the effect of bringing someone into the mix of different skills. Willingness to work with designers and developers (not to mention financial investment) to bring John to a clearly paid site.

It was only design work

Q: How has the quality of your site leads changed since Redesign? I think you are now getting a lot of copywriters who are looking at the site, which is good for verification, but doesn’t help you get a client … or does your site ever become your central of lead generation. Not having a source?

A: The whole point of the site was to appeal to designers and creative agencies, because the one who eventually hires me. I wanted to show that I really cared about design and visual ideas, and that I am not a writer filling boxes with copy at the end of the creative process.

I have loads of agencies contacting me, and you are right, there are a lot of copywriters too. Maybe half and half. Some writers have threatened me with death by saying take it down because it’s ruining things for everyone, but I think they’re joking. * Looks over the shoulder nervously *

The site is not intended to be a copywriter, but it is still being appreciated by your peers.

My old site never led – sending people to prove that I was real – so I never received an inquiry from it. The new one brings in potential customers almost every other day, which is an amazing improvement.

Lesson # 3:

Too many copywriters, and businesses for that matter, focus too much on the number of visits to their website.

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