IDF – Effective Web Communication – Number 6
The Interactive Design Foundation asked us to review how well the front page of our website adhered to basic copywriting guidelines. Those guidelines are in bold, our answers follow.
Level of formality for your audience
Our audience is lost. Their hearts are broken. And yet a sweet shattered kind chuckle’s been building and building at the back of their mind/heart/bodies for ages now, comforting them, lifting them up, making joy possible–inevitable even. Picture them as seawrecked skeletons scattered across a dusty seafloor when bright white rays poke at them through the crinkling dome of the light-filled tropical waters. You must picture Sisyphus happy. How could they complain about the style of this webpage? It is not actually glib. It’s just kind of silly, and all through it rings the melancholy and persevering
Vocabulary appropriateness for your audience
Our audience longs to grow spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually. They will appreciate the poetic uses of language. There are a few tougher vocabulary words, but not so many as seriously hamper one’s understanding of the overall piece. Also, it is very easy to look up a word when you’re already on the internet!
Sentence complexity appropriateness for your audience
Appropriate chunking to break up cognitive demands
OK. Take, for example, the section on the Corporeal Product Line. A mix of short and long sentences that introduce the products, explain the logic behind paying more for novelty-product versions of totes and baby onesies, and punch up the mini-essay with fun, silly, but still basically on-topic exclamations.
Sentence type variation to retain interest
OK. See above: chunking and sentence type variation go hand in hand.
Use of be verbs (and passive constructions, which use be verbs)
We tired. For example, in the “Diary of An Adament Seducer” section, we changed, “A project that was once begun and then” to ” A project begun and then”. In fact, in several instances we used that trick: Make the sentence into a list-item style to eliminate the grammar necessary to have it be a complete sentence in the traditional sense.
On the other hand, we left (beginning of text) “… during the six years he was supposed to be staying on task.” because it the round about grammatical excess helps to paint the picture of a person not staying on task.
Use of filler words
Again we tried. For example, “And also a few stories of the mythic origins of Wandering Albatross Press” became “And also a few stories describing WAP’s mythic origins.” Honestly, we’re not sure we should keep that change. We’d originally wanted “living” instead of “describing”, but then that seemed too confusing, and now you’ve got us worried about being confusing. But now we’re stuck with a boring verb like “describing” and are concerned that it doesn’t jive with the flow of the page
Important information first
Yes. The book is for sale and here’s a link. Then a quick overview of all the items we will introduce on the page. And also those items are arranged in descending order of importance.
We sacrificed some conciseness to frolic. It’s a balance. You don’t want to bog people down; but you do want to frolic with them.
Length of webpage
OK, I think. Again, it could be shorter, but then we’d have less frolic.
To tell you the truth
We are trying to be ourselves without being off-putting. It’s not a terrible idea for a project like this. It is not likely to succeed in any big way, but insofar as it does succeed, it will be because people correctly recognize that we’re creating art that interests them. If I am a business that sells computers or some other serious product, then I want people to correctly recognize that my computers are affordable, capable, and reliable. I avoid the silliness and round-abouts. If I am selling soda, then I am a con artist, since there is no value in soda except the illusionary storylines that come with it and the thrill of swilling sugar–a thrill that is only natural in children aged four to ten. If, then, I am a fraudster, it behooves me to match my lingo to the lingo of my audience; however, it behooves the rest of us to teach ourselves and others how to spot such manipulative profiteering.