|A professionally presented business website is a powerful and essential marketing tool: it's the first thing prospective customers will look at before they decide to contact you. If the copy on your website is not written to an acceptable standard, it may be losing you customers. It’s not enough just to have amazing graphics and imagery: you need the words to make it complete. Is the spelling correct? Are punctuation marks in place? Does the copy make sense? These are questions that website designers should be asking themselves before they upload a new site.
One of the biggest flaws with website copy is inconsistency: for example the word ‘website’. Some sites spell it as one word, some as two words; as far as I am aware both are acceptable, but not both versions on the same site! In my opinion, a lack of consistency will deter a significant amount of would-be customers from using the services of a company that has not taken the trouble to proofread their website.
Poor spelling on a website is another costly but avoidable mistake.
The majority of visitors will leave the site very quickly if they find too many spelling errors. This again will give them the impression that the site owners don’t really care; and they would be right! I am also convinced that copy that has been ‘padded out’ with insignificant trivia is also a big turn-off for visitors – clear, concise and informative is the order of the day.
Anything containing textual content should as a matter of course be proofread: it's important that not only are mistakes in spelling, punctuation and grammar found and corrected, but that the text flows smoothly for the reader. The copy on a website should not be treated as the 'poor relation' of the project. You can have the most up-to-date, eye-catching graphics available but you will still need well-written copy to compliment them.
There are the odd few web design companies around that will happily inform visitors how they can supply them with a state-of-the-art website but then insert second-rate copy, which totally negates any good work they have achieved. This will reduce the initial impact of the site, and more often than not will have an adverse effect on business.
It pays to have the copy checked professionally, whether the design company has written it themselves or had it supplied by the client; it may cost a lot less than you think to have a website proofread - it could cost you considerably more if you don't!
Remember: if visitors to your site cannot find the information they are looking for because of badly written copy they will simply leave the site. The only people to benefit will be your competitors.
About the author:
John Sheridan is a professional proofreader of hard copy items and website copy. He also writes web copy and occasionally accepts small copy-editing assignments. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org website: www.textcorrect.co.uk
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