Writing For The Web


December 9, 2005

Yesterday, I started working with a new customer. On her home page, she had text that read: New clothing by Company-A New Release! IRRESISTIBLE!!! WOMENS MENS PANTS SHORTS sweaters turtlenecks mocks. CARDIGANS coming soon! (Words changed slightly to create a different product category.)

I called her and this was the analogy I gave her: Imagine if you walked into a department store and the salesperson said, “May I help you?” You answer, “No thanks, just looking.” Instead of accepting that, the salesperson says, “NO, NO, you MUST look at these AMAZING new products!!! You are going to LOVE them!! Now come with me!!”

The customer got it immediately. “I would run from that salesperson as soon as possible.” This morning, when I got on her site, I saw that she had already edited them to sound like a salesperson you would want to talk to.

I always come back to the same caution — whether we are writing error messages or product benefits, we should write in the same tone that we would use when speaking to a customer in person.