What?

10 Jun

I wrote a post on Viget’s strategy blog today detailing a fluid process that can help clients get from point A to point B when they sit down to write web content. One of the problems I face both at work and when freelancing personally with clients is that they are attached to certain language, even if that language doesn’t mean anything to users.

On more than one occasion, I’ve asked a client if their audiences are finding their site by searching “exclusive widget characteristic.” Often, it’s some word that they’ve created internally to define their product or service. In almost all cases, the answer is “no,” but that they’re trying to “brand” that term with their product.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t work. Usually. With all the new words being invented (Digg, Flickr…) it’s hard enough just to have your name widely accepted, let alone a unique identifier in your description, too.

When I get a first draft of text from clients, typically I find a handful of these, “What?” terms. When I pass back my recommendations, the feedback I get to those “What” areas is ALWAYS MUCH CLEARER than before. Why? Because the client stopped trying to force a not-to-semi-recognizable way of describing something and just gave me the bare-bones answer instead.

Users prefer bare bones when they’re reading. If they didn’t, they’d read the IRS’ website for fun.

Point is, clients can benefit greatly from employing a copywriter to objectively tackle some of the language that might otherwise find its way to a website, but probably not to the user’s brain.

I say that flexibility, simplicity, and objectivity are the keys.

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