Monday, June 20, 2011

Website Owners, Watch Your Text Closely Or Lose Your Visitor's Attention

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the great English Romantic Poet of the 19th Century called this process "the willing suspension of disbelief." Of course he was writing about the fanciful in fiction, but he could have been describing websites had any existed in his day.

With fiction the author aims to hold the reader's attention by creating a reality with words. Anything that distracts from establishing that reality in the reader's mind, even something as simple as a misspelled word, makes the author's job more difficult. The same holds true with visitors to a website, particularly one with which the website owner hopes to sell himself or some product.

The average reader in the 19th Century probably didn't have all that many books around to choose from if he found himself turned-off by some annoying mistake in a book's content. The average website visitor in the 21st Century, on the other hand, has literally millions of choices at his fingertips and woe to the website owner that loses that visitor's attention for an instant! The visitor is back to the search item page looking for a website developed by someone whose attention to detail and judgement he can depend on.

Website visitors are expecting a visual world when they surf to a site. They expect and will submit to a certain amount of "creative licence" from the developer's design team. What they will not put up with is text they can't or won't read because it is too large, too small, unnaturally colored, grammatically incorrect or misspelled. Unless the site is one that sells visual products like oil paintings or sex, the visitor wants to know what's in it for him if he buys this product or service and any blurring of that information will send him immediately to another site. They might be willing to accept creative text from friends on their cellphones but they are not going to put up with that sort of intimacy from a stranger trying to sell them something

One of the quickest ways to lose a visitor is to present him with text obviously written by someone whose mother tongue is other than the visitor's. How will they know this? Everyone has come across websites with text that they recognized immediately as written by authors unfamiliar with the nuances of their language. Most native speakers of English, for example know that many means being one of a large indefinite number, while much means great in quantity,degree, or extent. Very few would ever say "I own much domains which are many more valuable than yours." The visitor immediately wonders what other misunderstandings will arise between him and the business interests of this website.

2 komentar:

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