You simply wouldn’t believe how many times that I’ve come across this problem. I’d hazard a guess at somewhere around 8 out of 10 websites that I’ve either helped to design or that I’ve worked on from an SEO perspective have all had this inherent design fault when I’ve first looked at them.
Any idea what it is I’m talking about?
Complexity! Too often I see a website where the content has been written to impress and as a result it’s confusing! Let’s take a brief look at why using anything other than layman’s terms or plain English is bad for business.
Call A Spade, A Spade
Imagine you’ve designed a new spade, it’s awesome, it’s titanium and it has a clever kink in the design to aid leverage, an ergonomic grip and it’s a true world beating spade. So you want to communicate this on your website and you also want to justify why your spade costs four times more than the competition right?
So, you sit down to design your website and you come up with the following text:
This revolutionary hole facilitation device is capable of empowering it’s user to expend less energy per work cycle, it’s ergonomic design results in less stress on the thoracic and lumbar vertebrae.
Seriously? You think that is going to sell this spade? You haven’t even said it’s a spade! How about this instead:
Boy have we made life easier! This spade revolutionises the way you work, for a start, we’ve made a simple yet effective change to the angle in the design that means it’s 30% easier to dig! No really! You have to try this to believe it. No more back pain!
How much easier to read is that?
Stop Trying To Impress
It’s something that we often feel the need to do, either to justify a price or simply because we feel that using technical terms will assert our command of a particular subject. In an interview situation that may well be true but if your website is geared at attracting new clients then you need to start to think in their terms and design your website around that.
I’m guilty of doing this myself sometimes, I’ll be talking to a client about something and all of a sudden they’ll stop me and ask “What’s SEO?” I’ve assumed that they already knew. In person that’s fine, they can stop and ask me, but if they were browsing my website they may think it’s too complicated and simply navigate away. This is what we don’t want to happen.
Rather than try to impress, we should try to explain in plain english. We can still interject terms but with an explanation so for example:
Our goal is to ensure that our website appears on the first page of Google when somebody searches for ‘Spades’, we can achieve this by ensuring that we’ve structured our website correctly, we’ve made it easy to read and navigate, the page includes relevant pictures and that the overall content on the page is relevant to the search term ‘Spades’ This process is called Search Engine Optimisation or SEO for short.
Lose The Technical Speak
It’s so easy for any of us working in a particular industry to forget that our potential clients won’t understand the jargon that we use daily. I’ve seen this so many times, one that jumps to mind was an industry leader in the nail and beauty industry that referred to L&P nails, this was short for liquid and powder, one being a monomer and one a polymer.
These are more commonly known as acrylic nails. the company in question wrongly figured that L&P sounded more exclusive than acrylic nails but hadn’t considered that their potential clients ( people new to the nail industry) simply wouldn’t be searching Google for that term so they are missing out on website visitors entirely!
Speak Plain English For Crying Out Loud
So go and take a look through your website, or, if you’re in the process of designing one, go and read through the text. It matters not if your target audience are teenage students or merchant bankers. Nobody likes technical jargon, sure you can throw in the odd term like my SEO example above so that you can capture those people that do know a little but explain it too, fully!
It’s not a pissing contest so don’t be under the illusion that using as many cliches, technical terms and industry buzzwords as possible will make you look like you’re an authority on a subject. If anything, it’ll make your potential clients click off your website and onto the next.
I’ll leave you with an extract that I read on a website this morning, it was this website that prompted me to write this blog post, you tell me, what on earth is this about?
Dynamically optimise through the brand funnel on all direct and programmatic activity from one platform. Easily compare video investments and measure what matters — from standard to sophisticated brand health metrics.
Seriously? what does that even mean? I was reading this over breakfast this morning on my iPad, i’d have had an easier time doing the cryptic clues on the Times crossword. Don’t make the mistake of falling into this trap.