Briefly, here are a couple of observations I made while researching Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS) for a client today:
1.Be clear and consistent with your site’s navigation. A frustrating example today was Sarlatech.com. (For some reason my thoughts drifted to “Sarlacc pit.”) Rather than linking to the company’s products with the word “Products” or “Services,” the site has a somewhat obscure image with the words “Proficy Products and Solutions” tucked away on the far right. Why an image with vague text? Why is it on the far right instead of front and center or in a prominent location? Sure, Japanese read from the right to the left, but do Indians (it’s a company based in India) reading English read from the right to the left?
Also note that the top navigation changes once the products button is clicked; “Contact Us” and “About Us” simply disappear from the page. Why? A more consistent design will keep people interested longer. This mistake is especially painful because if potential buyers are looking at a product online and are suddenly interested, they’re likely to want to contact the company for more information. That opportunity is taken away in this case.
2. Be consistent with the branding of your product. Today’s bad copywriting example is Prolis.info. Both the home page and the application page refer to the company’s flagship product as both “PROLIS” and “Prolis.” You may argue that capitalization isn’t worth getting all stuffy about, but this is the name of a company’s major product. Why is the company taking a chance of introducing confusion about a product by offering two different renderings of the name on the website?
I’m going to chalk this one up to lazy writing and editing. Numerous companies are guilty of cutting corners when it comes to who writes and edits web content (if it’s edited at all). Those companies are taking risks by cutting corners in this fashion. The benefits of avoiding those cost cuts and providing well-written and -edited content was demonstrated recently when online clothing company Zappos announced revenue improvement by utilizing Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to edit its content. Zappos suspected that fewer typos and grammatical mistakes would turn into more sales. The investment in editing services turned out well for them apparently.
So when I see sites like Prolis.info mangle their product name, I wonder how much thought went into the writing and editing of the web content. Sure, the rest of the site’s web content may be grammatically correct, but there’s more than grammar and spelling to consider. Less often considered are factors like consistency in writing.
What are some other less tangible considerations that make a web site and its content stand out?
Edit 1: A few hours after writing this, I found another example of inconsistent writing/branding. Visitors to Ethosoft.com will notice throughout the site inconsistencies in the company’s own name. Again, it’s only capitalization, but witness “Ethosoft, Inc.” and “Ethosoft’s” on the main page, yet on the “About Us” page find both “EthoSoft, Inc.” and “Ethosoft.” Even worse, compare the addresses here and here. Yeah, you guessed it: on one address is “Ethosoft, Inc.” and the other “EthoSoft, Inc.” Paying someone to edit a site’s web content would in theory eliminate this poor copywriting.
(Photo: jma.work, via Flickr Creative Commons)