Ok; Not lame … but not really awesome, either

7 Feb

I’ll be honest. I use exclamation points. I like them. They convey emotion. Sometimes they are unnecessary.

Like right now!!!!!

But when I see them in what otherwise is a fantastic site, it’s distracting. So are attempts at being witty that fall short because, well, they’re obviously forced.

We went over a site today that’s used primarily to gather information. We use it to share feedback internally. You can build forms with drag-and-drop ease, and the interface is fun and friendly.

The language throughout the site? Eh, not so much.

Instead of being lame by paying zero attention to writing engaging copy, they jumped to the other extreme: ULTRA WITTY. Which potentially is equally annoying to a user.

So, anyway, today we were getting a tutorial on the site and I kept noticing the company’s location in the footer — Tampa, FL! Yes, it’s written that way, distracting me with its exclamation point. When I brought it up, two other colleagues immediately said they’d noticed, too. And not in a “Aww cute. That’s endearing” kind of way. Just purely distracting.

Same with the quotes they throw in to sound unique — perhaps “cultured” — which, again, are attempts at giving the company a voice that I find to miss the mark.

We want the user experience to be seamless and enjoyable. Just like NOT infusing your voice and personality to the user can ultimately fail to leave any impression, going over the top — like the one-upper no one likes, or the uber snooty funny gal that people cringe to be around — will land you in the same boat.

Even though the copy is a bit off-key, the fact that the site is so marvelous otherwise more than makes up for the quirky (but arguably counter-productive) content sprinkled throughout.

In this case of voice, I’d recommend revisiting the concept of “less is more.”

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4 Responses to “Ok; Not lame … but not really awesome, either”

  1. M. Jackson Wilkinson February 7, 2008 at 2:06 pm #

    I think that it was intentionally overboard, just to be goofy. (you should say which site it is, btw)

    I dunno, I find sites like that endearing, as long as the sicky sweetness really doesn’t get in the way of what the site does.

    Too many sites take themselves too seriously, and this one makes fun of those sites.

  2. shay February 8, 2008 at 6:16 pm #

    i originally posted that it was wufoo. guess the cat’s outta the bag.

    generally i agree, but sometimes it’s just forced. the sayings on this site? totally forced.

  3. Emily February 21, 2008 at 5:21 pm #

    your post reminds me of JUNO – half the people I know thought the witty banter was the best part of the movie, half the people thought it was too much and distracting. But pretty much everyone I talked to liked the movie at some level. Had they not, I imagine those who found the ultra-clever convo to be annoying would have ended up really hating the movie as a whole. so there’s some core of credibility to start with and the (too thick?) layer of style works better on some people than others.

  4. shay February 21, 2008 at 5:25 pm #

    Em — Precisely. So, definitely don’t watch “Brick” (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0393109/) unless you want to experience the epitome of terribly forced “witty” dialogue delivered by the most ridiculously existential high schoolers ever scripted.

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