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Image By Whitney [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Now that you’ve finished ringing in the new year, take a minute to review your company’s website. While some of these editorial changes occur with the advent of the new year, it’s also an excellent opportunity to update other evergreen areas that often get overlooked.
Consider these ten suggestions a basic Q1 checkup. While you’re at it—why not add a calendar reminder for each quarter, or at least once a year? Then you can rest assured that your site is always representing you at your best: up-to-date and error-free. Or, get help from Luminary Works with our budget-friendly Website Review service.
1. Copyright Year: If you list a year or range of years with your website’s copyright notice, update it for 2017. The same concept applies if you have digital templates (like email templates) that include copyright dates. Update those so that your future content includes the correct date or date range.
2. Years in Business: If your website boasts the fact that your business has been around for something like 13 years, over five years, or more than a decade, make sure the numerical reference is accurate.
3. About Pages: If your “About” section lists key employees, financial stats, locations, or other details, double check to ensure that the information is correct.
5. Meta Data: For your homepage and other key pages, take a look at the meta title and meta description. These appear in search engine results, so they need to be spot-on.
6. Images: Review your website’s images. Because you can’t do a “search and replace” to update them, they are often forgotten when it comes to annual updates. Also, double-check for typos, as these are often missed in images.
7. Social Media: Review your company’s description in each profile (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.) to ensure that the information is correct. Also, check that the links from your website to each social profile function properly.
8. Other Sites: In addition to the typical social media sites, don’t forget to check other ancillary systems that display info about your business. Things like Google Maps, career sites, reservation systems, email newsletter systems, and any other system where you have a profile.
9. Tech-Savvy Words: Language evolves quickly, especially "tech words." Unfortunately, this evolution can make your site look dreadfully old-school if you're not changing with the times. Update spelling, hyphenation, and even capitalization of key words such as email (not e-mail), website (not web site or Website), blog (not weblog), and online (not on-line). Also consider other terms that are more subjective, including eCommerce and mCommerce (or e-commerce and m-commerce). Overall, strive for consistency.
10. Bonus Features: And don't forget about functionality. Links should work! Your site should load quickly. Make sure your site works seamlessly on a smartphone. And, bonus points if the pages on your site can be printed—yep, on real paper with a printer—with the important elements intact and with proper formatting.
Now, get back to having a wonderful and successful 2017!
Allow me to share a story with you.
Recently, I was looking for an accountant to help me set up my accounting software (Xero). On its website, this particular accounting firm had a nice design and prided itself on being tech-savvy. Sounds great, right? Well, yes… except that so many things about the website felt contrary to that tech-savvy mentality they were trying to sell me on.
Specifically, the word choice throughout the site was anything but tech-savvy and other areas were just downright unprofessional in their carelessness. A few examples—also included in the slideshow below:
So I didn’t contact this accounting company. Maybe they are amazingly tech-savvy but hired the wrong copywriter. Taking time to vet them seemed like a waste of my time. It was quicker and easier to find someone else (whose website had only one typo, which I gently pointed out).
I know better than to think that everyone is a word nerd like myself. However, most people learn these basic rules at a young age. Subconsciously or consciously, they recognize when something is off. Doubt and distrust enters the picture. You're trying to sell them on a message, but they realize that something is wrong—is it your purported area of expertise or simply your grammar? Will they stick around long enough to find out, or just click away to the next competitor?
Moral of the story: Don’t let poor copywriting—whether it be word choice, grammar, punctuation, or misspellings—undermine your expertise and your marketability.
Solutions? A few come to mind...
Trick or Treat? The dreaded hyphen is out to get you this Halloween! Folks just can’t win when it comes to hyphens.
Hyphens can be complicated–and subjective. To hyphenate or not to hyphenate? It often depends on how the words are being used in the sentence. A style guide (like Chicago Style) or grammar book will come in handy (or hire an editor or proofreader!). For a quick overview, I recommend this online reference from GrammarBook.com. This checklist might also help you review your writing:
Here are a few examples (with my notations) from some business websites I ran across recently. Unfortunately, I often encounter these types of errors on the homepage and other primary pages, such as About Us, Services, etc... I’ve blurred some of the text to prevent embarrassment. These errors are easy to make–but also easy to correct. They are proof that even simple website copy needs a fresh set of eyes for quality assurance. It’s exactly why Luminary Works offers its Website Review service as a budget-friendly option to ensure your site shines with top-notch professionalism!
Don’t let bad grammar and punctuation play tricks on you. Let your error-free message be the ultimate treat for your customers!
Happy Halloween from Luminary Works!
Did you know October 20 is National Day on Writing? Created by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), this special day “celebrates the importance, joy, and evolution of writing.” Look for a flurry of tweets using the hashtag #WhyIWrite.
Whether you’re a writer of books, blogs, or business reports, take time to reflect on the quality of your writing. Is it clearly written? Is it free of spelling errors and other blunders? Will it achieve your objective? Will it resonate with your audience?
If you’re trying to improve your writing, consider the guidance from these books. They will help to ensure that your “practice makes perfect” rather than “practice makes problematic habits.”
When it comes to writing, follow Nike’s advice and “just do it!” Write. Edit. Repeat. Happy National Day on Writing!
Having a clear, concise, error-free website is imperative. Even better, it doesn’t have to break the bank – or your budget.
Consider allocating a small amount in your 2017 budget for editorial services. When is the last time someone reviewed your website (or your “evergreen” printed marketing materials)? I frequently spot mistakes in these areas—even ones that spell check would catch. While minor errors may not be the end of the world, their presence subconsciously lowers your level of professionalism to your customers and prospects. When you’re trying to close the deal, doubt is the last thing you want standing in the way.
Depending on the size of your site or your printed pieces, editorial reviews can be completed quickly, which translates to inexpensively. That fresh set of eyes makes all the difference, and your prospects can keep their eye on the prize.
If you’re interested in getting a quote specific to your project, let me know.
Signs—especially those in foreign countries where English is not the native language—are often ripe for editorial correction. This “Mind Your Head” sign from Cambodia isn’t incorrect; it simply isn’t what we would expect to see in America. Particularly, the verb “Mind” evokes a British approach (Mind the Gap). Other common signage wording comes to mind:
Still, I love this photo and its presumably unintended double meaning: “Mind Your Head.” Don’t run into things or give yourself a concussion. And, take care to fill your head with knowledge, positive thoughts, and new experiences (like visiting Cambodia’s magnificent temples and ruins!).
In honor of National Punctuation Day, remember these five quick reminders to make sure your messages are spot on:
If you're itching for more helpful reminders, I like this 16-point list from Inc.com.