Long copy vs short copy is one the never ending arguments in marketing, both online and offline.

Hardened direct response marketers will insist that long copy produces more sales every time, while many online gurus’s will insist that short attention spans mean we must keep our online copy short.

What to do? Well, looking at what other successful online marketers do is a good place to start.

Take a Bite Out of Apple

ipad page sections

Being as Apple and the latest iPad are flavour of the month, I thought it would be an interesting exercise to see how much copy Apple produces for this online product.

The total copy package comes in at 35 pages, which is a lot in anyone’s language, and probably quite shocking to the short web copy advocates.

(Check it out yourself, just do a print preview for all the sections under the iPad section and count up the pages.)

The direct response geezers will be nodding their heads sagely and saying “See! Old rules rule.”

What’s great about the Apple iPad copy is that it doesn’t seem like 35 pages of info.

Being the design obsessive’s that they are, Apple brilliantly breaks up all that copy into attractive and easily readable sections, and yet it doesn’t make any concessions for page length. You still have to scroll a lot when viewing the product page.


Design for Impact and Readability

Headlines and sub heads that tell you the features and benefits, short paragraphs tell the story and get to the point of each feature.

ipad page sections 2

Use Large Type

The other thing to note is that Apple uses large type in many of its paragraphs. This is great for readability and impact.

ipad large type

Spread Out the Information

Apple also breaks up the content into six separate sections (tabs), to expand on the benefits and the story of the product.

ipad tabs

Just because Apple has used tabs to separate the copy, it doesn't mean it’s not part of the total product description.  Everything in this section is all about the iPad (the product).

Which brings up another design point, there’s nothing else on the page or in the iPad section to distract from the product. The iPad is the hero.

There’s no “You may also like” or “Best Sellers” or other menus.

Do Your Product Justice

So take a look at your own online product copy and display. Does it cover 35 pages, or is it just a short paragraph?

How many pics do you have? There must be a hundred or more pics throughout the iPad product section.

Remember the iPad is only a $500 to $800 product, and look at the effort Apple has gone to, to describe it and sell it online.

Even the iPod, which is even cheaper, gets similar treatment.

Ask yourself: “Are yoour product descriptions doing your products justice?”

Expand the Product Story

Just to rub it in, Apple doesn’t leave it at 35 pages for the iPad.  There are links to iPad for Business, iPad for Education and more that go to whole new sections and expand the story of the iPad even further.

Each section probably has as many pages again as the initial product description section, but it is still all about the iPad.

ipad for business

What You Can Learn

While not everyone has the resources to create as much product content as Apple does for the iPad, there are still important lessons you can learn.

  • Don’t settle for short stories
  • Tell the story of the product, and tell stories about the product. How it can be used in different situations.
  • Make the product the hero, don’t try and sell other things on the same page.
  • Design for readability. Too many product pages have tiny type because a designer has tried to get too much onto a page and above the fold.
  • Don’t be afraid of going long.

There’s a whole lot more you learn from looking at the Apple iPad pages, and I can’t think of a better place to learn.

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