I always enjoy finding interesting ways to describe my clients’ services, particularly when I’m not familiar with the types of services my client offers.  Earlier this year, Jared Haworth of Alloy Code contacted me to write the copy for his website, which was being relaunched.  Alloy Code is a Ruby on Rails development firm, and at the time Jared contacted me to do his copywriting, I only knew that Ruby on Rails was a programming language used to create web applications.  I didn’t know anything about the language itself, how to program in Ruby on Rails, or what iterative meant.  But I’m very well-versed in research, which makes it easy to get up to speed enough to provide cohesive copy.

I went through several steps before I started writing the copy, which was to be descriptive and use industry-standard terminology.  My first step was to be honest with my client before he sent me a deposit.  I told Jared exactly what I did know and what I didn’t know, and I advised him that I would have questions as I went along.  I then did a lot of research on Ruby on Rails: what methodologies are used, what kind of programming comes from it, and what terms are commonly used when describing finished products.  I visited a few websites that use Ruby on Rails on the back end as well.  Then, I asked my client a few things that needed clarification regarding the programming language.  This technical knowledge allowed me to better describe the services, using industry-standard terminology.

In the meantime, we discussed how he came up with the name Alloy Code.  At the suggestion of his good friend and long-time collaborator Keith Medlin, Jared came up with Alloy Code because alloys fuse metals to create even stronger materials, and Alloy Code fuses different technologies to develop strong applications.  I looked at other areas where I could use an alloy metaphor and wove it into the “About” and “People” pages, since Alloy Code consists of two very strong programmers.  We also used it as a tagline that appears at the top of every page.

I also wanted to play a bit with the name of the language itself, Ruby on Rails, without going overboard and being obvious.  For one of the services, I was able to use a subtle play on words to emphasize how a backup service prevents the application from being “derailed.”  Again, obvious metaphors seem lazy to me, so I kept it to a minimum and instead described the problem each service solved while only using the play on words once in the copy.

Finally, the client wanted a little bit of a tongue-in-cheek feel to the “People” page, which allowed me to show some of the personality of the Alloy Code developers.  I teased out some information from Jared and his partner on their hobbies and used creative ways to describe how they spend their time when they’re not coding.  I also listened to their suggestions – on my first pass with one of the bios, I used terminology that wasn’t familiar to the subject.  We figured that if he hadn’t heard of it, the ideal client wouldn’t, either, so I reworked the bio to remove the terminology but preserve the tongue-in-cheek feel.

Jared tells me that he gets inquiries through the website and has all the work he can handle currently (but is always looking forward!)  I’m proud to have been a part of this key component of Alloy Code’s marketing, and at the end, it was about more than just creating great website copy. We forged our own strong marketing piece through communication, blending a talented Ruby on Rails engineer with a hard-working copywriter for an even stronger website.*

*Lucid Designs was the website’s designer.