Informal vs. Sloppy Web Copy
Margaret Levine, May 21, 2013
In today's age of text speak and emoticons, it can seem like proper spelling and grammar don't matter anymore. The landscape of our language is morphing in front of our very eyes and, with it, our understanding of how to properly convey ideas. However, you still need a common grasp of words and how they work or the ability to communicate your value to clients will be lost.
Making Decisions vs. Mistakes
As a business, language is a part of every decision that you make. The keyword there is decision. When writing something, you are making a choice about the tone and style of the text, as well as the ideas that are conveyed by it.
As such, there's a big difference between deliberately using a smiley face to express something and unintentionally spelling something incorrectly or using slovenly grammar. The former can be seen as entertaining or cute, if informal; the latter would be seen as unprofessional or careless.
Why Businesses Should Care about Spelling and Grammar
Have you ever looked at a webpage and found an obvious spelling error? It immediately lowered your opinion of the website in question, didn't it? Suddenly, you may have found the site less authoritative on their subject matter or perhaps you would be less willing to trust them with your credit card.
Client trust is crucial to any business or organization, and a company that can't spell their own name properly (a typo that I once found on a client page and pointed out to their project manager) won't garner trust and definitely won't seem like a leader of any industry.
(Not the attitude that you want toward web copy.)
Two Easy Rules to Write By
I have two cardinal rules that I use religiously when editing and writing. They may seem self-explanatory, but I think they work well:
1. Spell correctly and use good grammar.
· When in doubt, use spellcheck and have someone else review the document for errors that the program didn't catch.
2. If not using good spelling and grammar, make sure that you're doing so intentionally and to some purpose.
· There is nothing wrong with slang or incorrect usage for effect -- unless it's gratuitous. Whatever you choose should make sense in context or it isn't worth doing.
The English language is changing rapidly. While there's nothing wrong with using modern terms or symbols in the correct context, you should always be making a decision to do so. Clever usage of modern terms may be applauded; carelessness will cost your business trust.
Make sure that you look good!