Should tech startup sites be easy to read?

I’ve been attending meetings of the Lean Startup Circle since I arrived in Santa Barbara a few months ago, meeting entrepreneurs and looking at their sites. Being “easy to read” is not in the Top 10 of their wish lists.

I’ve worked for sixty tech outfits, so I’ve seen the marketing trends in a lot of different silos. And a thing that I continue to see is companies that shrug about it if their site is hard to read. They equate their complexity with the superiority of their product.

I’m more of a “Keep It Simple, Stupid,” kind of a guy–especially when you’re trying to introduce an innovation. If you have something new, you have to talk about it clearly. If it’s new, it won’t be anything people are accustomed to looking at, right?

If a startup has something truly new, then by definition you won’t be able to google for it.

“Alexa, give me an example of something that has never been thought of before.”

Alexa will not have an answer for you.

I’ve been startled to find out that hardly any of the Startup Circle attendees have ever heard the term “copywriter.” “What, you’re a lawyer?” said one start-up entrepreneur. He thought I was talking about “copyright.”

Maybe I’m a little resentful. Back in the old days when I started, copywriters were the apex of the ad agency food chain. Copywriters were the mainstay of their business.

I’ve been looking around the Santa Barbara scene and contacting web shops, because that’s what almost all former ad agencies have evolved into.

I’ve inspected the OUR TEAM pages of 61 web design shops in Santa Barbara, and hardly any of them have a copywriter. Out of 227 listed employees, only four have the title “copywriter.” There are ten dogs on-staff.

The web shop staffs are filled with graphics people and coders and web developers and video producers, and copywriters are virtually nonexistent. Web shops don’t have a guy like me on staff.

If your product or service is new or different, you need a copywriter to assemble the information into a clear explanation that’s easy to understand. First of all, make it easy for people to see what your offer is.