Copy vs. Design: Which is better for your conversion rate?

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Copy vs. Design: Which is better for your conversion rate?

This quick-ish read is a collaboration (argument?) between graphic designers and copywriters who just can’t come to a conclusion on whether copy or design converts better in a landing page… until we did, at the end.


  1. You just thought of this topic on a whim
  2. Debating with your co-worker
  3. Looking for ways to optimise a potentially good landing page

Then you’ve come to the right place! Today we’re going to tell you how good copies and good designs are made, and when that’s done, we’ll pit them against each other to determine which one is truly the king of conversions.

So, let’s explore design first.

What’s a Good Landing Page Design?

To be perfectly clear, good design is different from good Landing Page design. Market-speak tells us that, when we talk about landing pages, we think of purchases, leads, newsletters sign-ups, community expansion, etc. And that’s exactly what we want for landing page designs. Lander even coined the phrase “Avoid the Design Trap”.

Good designs should be gorgeous, symmetric and just plain artful. Good landing page designs on the other hand should… well, sell. That’s its hallmark, and being beautiful is only the cherry on top.

The true purpose of great landing page designs is to convey your brand’s message… without saying a single word. It’s a visual communicator for those who want to envision their life after purchasing your product or service. Or it could also act as a credibility enhancer to give your business an edge over competitors.

So what makes a good landing page design?

  1. Find the balance between aesthetic and purpose
  2. Be minimalistic — The easier to understand, the better
  3. Let your design talk to the audience
  4. Show subtle hints of the brand through colours, lines and shapes

Think of any advantage that visuals can give to your business, and that’s what it means to have a good landing page design.

What’s a Good Landing Page Copy?

For most people, writing about products and services should be no problem at all. Creating good landing page copies is practically innate, right? Well, not really. 

Majority of new (and sometimes experienced) copywriters make these mistakes that eventually lead to poor performing landing pages:

  1. Talking about the brand too much
  2. Writing with multiple topics in mind
  3. Focusing on features
  4. Didn’t do enough research
  5. Chose between emotion and logic

Let me break this down for you. 

1. Talking about the brand too much

It’s alright to mention the brand and its accomplishments for credibility purposes, but to have it take up even 10% of your copy is a big no-no. The prospects coming from ads or google searches don’t care about your brand, they care about the product and service you’re selling.

2. Writing with multiple topics in mind

When creating landing page copies, it’s always (not “almost always”) better to choose just 1 topic to talk about. 2 is doable but a bit of a stretch. You must understand that the prospect has one question in their mind or one problem they need to solve, just one. By addressing that, and only that, in your copy, your chances of landing a conversion would be much higher.

3. Focusing on features

Top of my head, the best example of this would be the battle between Apple & Samsung. Imagine you’re a typical office worker who just wants a good phone. Would you be more enticed to buy one that has a “5400 mAh battery” or one that “lasts 24 hours in a single charge”? Checkmate, people want Benefits, not features. Apple did it right by using the power of benefits in advertising its products. The result? Well, we all know what Apple’s standing is now in the tech world.

4. Didn’t do enough research

To talk about something so passionately is one thing, but to actually know its intricacies is another. Research is vital because, in order to write compelling copies, you must know more than your reader. They need information, they need solutions, and the only way you can get more of those than them is through intensive raw data gathering.

5. Chose between emotion and logic

This could be another debate of its own. But to cut the long story short. You’ll need both to make landing page copies profitable. Moulding a prospect or customer’s emotions can only get you so far, that’s why you’ll need logic in there. Rock hard statistics to make them say “huh, this guy knows what’s he’s talking about” or “damn, me mucho like this”.

So now, let’s reverse engineer those don’ts and turn them to the do’s of copywriting:

  1. Talk mainly about your products and services
  2. Have one topic or objective in mind
  3. Deliver benefits first, then features at the end
  4. Research about your topic
  5. Combine emotion and logic into one compelling copy

Alright, we covered what it means to have both good landing page designs and landing page copies. Now it’s time to make them go to a conversion war! 

Are you ready?

The Showdown: Design vs. Copy

And here we are ladies and gentlemen! The fight we’ve all been waiting for. Who will win the throne as the ultimate conversion king?  Let’s find out.

An experiment done by Hubspot answers the question of “Which should come first, Design or Copy”? But it doesn’t really talk about whether which one is better at giving higher conversion rates… or so it seems.

In summary, their findings show that good landing page designs worked “very well” when compared to boring designs that pretty much leave 80% of the page with words, a.k.a. copy. Meaning that it gave better conversion rates.

Images credit to: Hubspot article

Design: 1

Copy: 0

But later in the experiment, they showed that a newly designed landing page is actually doing worse than its older, more stale counterpart. What happened? Well, it seems that the copy is actually very different between the two, and when they changed it, the outcome was pretty obvious.

Copying the good copy to the well-designed landing page resulted in a 20% increase in conversion rate. Meaning that without good copywriting content, a pretty landing page would not survive long.

Design 1:

Copy: 1

So it’s a tie? Don’t worry, we won’t ruffle your feathers with a boring ending. Research by The Neilsen Norman Group shows that, for 20+ years (and through eye-tracking software), majority of internet browsers only skim and scan web pages for Relevant Info, disregarding design with the exception of large images.

Here’s an example of a heat map focusing on both image and copy:

Image credit to: Neil Patel article

Design: 1

Copy 2

Who Wins?

From our war findings, we can conclude that copy wins. Design put up a good fight but in the end, people look for information — solutions — data — products & service benefits and the like. While at first, it can be pretty hard to determine whether copy or design wins, when looking further into details, we can safely say that copy is the king when trying to generate better sales, leads and traffic.

This however does not skewers the usefulness of landing page designs. With good and purposeful aesthetics, a landing page can enhance a brand’s credibility, community expansion and sales (to some degree).

Final Thoughts

Copy may be the king of conversions, but when it comes to optimising landing pages, you’ll need both. We did not conclude that designs are detrimental to your page. It’s still very much a beneficial factor, especially when you want to reach your business goals faster.

Our final words of wisdom to you are:

Prioritise copy. Then when you can see it’s working, try designing around it. Or if you and your team are in a bit of a pickle with heavy workload, then try our PPC advertising services which include optimising landing page copies and designs. 

Contevo has been serving Australian businesses for 15 years already. Try us out, you won’t regret it. We offer free website audits and competitor analysis just for having a quick call. Schedule a session today.

Some of our recent results.

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