Writing Web Content: The old rules of editing still apply 0

Is your website driving sales or is it driving potential customers away? Think about it — how you present yourself via your website is your customer’s first impression of you and your business. What you say and how you say it matters.

There are plenty of excellent resources available to guide you in writing compelling copy for your site. For instance, Copyblogger is a great source of tips, stories, and general information on Web copywriting and writing for search engine optimization (SEO).

typo3While researching copywriting courses, I came across another site that offered articles, books, and courses on writing Web copy. Much to my surprise (and amusement), the word “copywriting” contained a typo in it. In the headline. On the Home page!

If you are a software company or a travel agent, let’s say, a typo on your Home page might be embarrassing. A typo in the first headline a visitor sees… we’ll call that REALLY embarrassing.

But if you are selling products about writing Web content, your website should contain clean, well-edited copy. A typo in the first sentence shows sloppiness. Carelessness. A serious lack of attention to detail. When there are countless similar resources out there and I can find them with a simple mouse click, a misplaced letter in a headline is enough for me to look elsewhere for a writing class.

The “expert” in question thanked me for pointing out his mistake when I emailed him, though he dismissed my comment that he might be losing customers by being careless. His reply was essentially,would you stop reading a book because you found a typo in it?” And my reply was,if I hadn’t bought it yet, and the typo was on the first page, and it was a book about writing? You bet I’d stop reading it!”

Now, I’m a writer and editor. So admittedly my tolerance for typos is probably lower than the average person’s. But just because it’s fast and easy to fix typos and mistakes online, compared to those in a book or magazine or newspaper (where the best you can do is issue a correction after the fact), doesn’t mean that you don’t need to proofread, edit, and review your content for mistakes, misspellings, and typos.

It might seem old school, but it’s also common sense. And it applies to any website, regardless of what you’re selling. With so many online options available to them, you need to make sure you’re not making it easy for your customers to dismiss you.

image by Dainis Graveris, 1st Web Designer.com

-Jay Snider
Palo Alto Software

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