The Design Center, DT&G Web Design & Review  

Shoot Your Web Site in the Foot

(not to mention your business)

with Douglas Clifford

Consider this - The closest most people will ever get to dropping by your business is visiting your web site. The impression they form about your company and whether they decide to do business with you depends entirely on what they learn from your web pages.
      Over the last 18 months I have visited more than 1000 camera stores, photo labs, repair facilities and equipment manufacturers; many companies have been 'visited' two or three times. Here's the first in a series on what not to do when creating a web site for any kind of business.
      Pay absolutely no attention to spelling and syntax. After all, surfers will understand what you are trying to say, no matter how awkward or badly spelled. Besides, visitors probably can't spell any better than you.

Here are some actual examples. See if you can spot the mistakes.

Did you find all ten mistakes?

If you believe visitors won't notice spelling errors and incorrect words, you are wrong. The demographics for web surfers show this is the most educated audience in the history of the written word. What do such errors say about your company? At best, it tells the visitor that you don't pay attention to details. At worst, it makes you appear ignorant and uneducated. Need answers to the above problem?

It's unlikely any of the above errors would be found on the pages of any printed magazine or periodical. Why should the standards for a web page be any different?

To be taken seriously, web page authors and designers should run all pages through a spell-checker, have someone with good English skills proofread your pages, and be extra careful to double check any text which appears in gif and jpg files.

Part Two: a few weeks later

After talking about the importance of proofreading your web documents and having someone with good English skills checking every page for syntax and for those errors spellcheckers can't detect.

Did we get mail? You bet! Even Fred Showker half-joked that I must have found all those spelling errors right here at DT&G. One lady wrote, quoting one of Fred's incomplete sentences and asked if I could detect his faux pas. It took me three days to realize what was bothering her. Incomplete sentences have become so much a part of contemporary writing, they have pretty much become de rigueur.

There, now I've done it! I've managed to sprinkle two French phrases into one paragraph, and I'm not even a New York writer. You can blame advertising copy writers for successfully introducing incomplete sentences into our daily lexicon. You'll find them everywhere, in fiction, non-fiction, and trendy monthly magazines. And I have no problem with writing that makes sense and sounds good when read aloud. I also know one should not begin a sentence with the word "And," and I just did.

Obviously, I'm not a purist, and clearly we struck a chord with the above article.

Now, I want to talk about the relationship between web sites and email. After studying more than 1000 photo commerce web sites and sending out thousands of personal inquiries to businesses, I've reached a disturbing conclusion: too many companies haven't got a clue about the value of email.


continue with Doug's Rules...

Douglas Clifford is the webmaster of the ACE Indexes, an annotated directory of photo commerce web sites, and online photography and digital imaging magazines.

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