Common Website Mistakes

FREE  15 was such a fun experience, I might just do it again sometime! It was both informative and inspiring to work with other entrepreneurs/creatives on their language, and I realized (again) my passion for helping small businesses communicate their vision.

For those of you who didn’t hear about FREE 15, I decided to write up a little post on some of the common mistakes I saw/suggestions I made for the website owners I worked with.

Common website mistakes_2

image via unsplash: Matthew Wiebe

Watch your sentence length

Sentences should have a variety of lengths in order to keep the reader engaged in what she is reading. Short, choppy sentences can create a disjointed feeling, while longer sentences can make the reader forget the subject altogether.

Know when to use a comma

Commas are confusing, and the rules are broken all the time. However, as my advanced grammar professor used to say, “you’ve got to know the rules to break them.” So before you throw commas out the door, at least try to understand some basic guidelines.

Some basic comma guidelines:

  • Use a comma to separate part of a sentence that is non-essential to making it a sentence

    e.g. Henry, the brains behind this business, is our beloved founder.

    “Henry is our beloved founder” is a sentence on its own, so you need to set apart the phrase “the brains behind this business” with two commas.

  • Use a comma to link two full sentences connected by a conjunction.

    e.g. We love to help others capture their day in photos, and we’re passionate about doing this at a professional level.

  • Do NOT use a comma to link a sentence with a fragment.

    e.g. We want our photos to help you capture your day and create memories to last a lifetime .

Avoid Clichés

If you’re not sure if something is a cliche, ask yourself if you’ve heard it before. If the answer is yes, try to steer clear (hint “steer clear” is a cliche!) People want to know you have your own unique voice, tastes and passions. Give them something new, even if it takes you a while to think up how you’re different, you definitely are!

 

I hope this helps you with your journey, and as always, feel free to reach out to me to learn more about what a full website-refresh would look like.

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The Language That Won The Super Bowl

By now, we all know the Super Bowl isn’t really about the football anymore. It’s about the food, commercials and onslaught of social commentary on everything. The real winners and losers are the companies that put 4.5 MILLION on the line to either win our country’s heart or feel the wrath of our criticism with their 30 second ads.

So what really wins us over?

Is it puppies loving horsies or Daddies loving kiddos? I think the cute stuff helps, but it’s more than that. The videography and music are big parts, but it’s more than them too. It’s language. You can bet those companies willing to shell out 4 and a half million spent days and months pouring over their language—shaping it until they felt it was precise, perfectly placed and persuasive.

So let’s take a look at some Super Bowl commercial language that can teach us a thing or two.

Example 1 Always #LikeAGirl

The ad starts out giving us a behind-the-scenes shot, so we feel instantly like we’re part of the making of the commercial, not just watching it. The screen changes to read: What does it mean to do something “like a girl?” Notice it’s an open-ended question, both open to us and to those being interviewed in the commercial. The answer is not yes, no or multiple choice; the interviewer does not answer the question for you. So as the viewer, we begin to answer the question in our heads, becoming more vested in the moment, even picturing ourselves acting-out “like a girl.” We wonder, as we watch the interviewees acting out the phrase, would we do the same things?

Then the words: We asked young girls the same question. This intrigues us more. How will the young girls respond in comparison to the older girls and young men? Our question is answered as we watch young girl after young girl in inspirational pantomime. After we are inspired by their responses, the words appear When did doing something “like a girl” become an insult? At that moment, what we had been wondering subconsciously is put to words on the screen before us. In a Google-esque way, the creators of this ad read our minds and gave us the words we didn’t quite have yet.  Brilliant.

Finally, the words A girl’s confidence plummets during puberty appear on the screen.  Yep, we think, makes sense. But who’s going to change that? Then the words: Always wants to change that. In my opinion they could have been more subtle with their branding and left even more of the selfless, heroic image they were working to portray. But still— powerful right? And such simple, simple words.

The strategy of their words is what helped guide our minds into exactly the place they wanted us to go: seeing Always as one of the heroes, along with ourselves, who can change “like a girl” from being an insult into meaning something strong and inspirational.


Example 2: Chevy Super Bowl Commercial 4G LTE WiFi

First, the trickery. We think the big game is finally on and then out of nowhere our TV cuts out.

Or does it? Then the simple words: What would you do if your TV went out? We think on that, and the commercial actually gives us a few seconds to do so, before giving us an option but not necessarily the answer: The all-new Chevy Colorado offer built-in 4G LTE Wi-Fi.  (pause) You could stream the game in it. “Duh.” We think. In fact, the language so far may have annoyed us a bit, even making us feel like an outcast if we don’t have that truck option. But then the ad becomes so much more relatable again with the next words:  just sayin’.  (pause) You know you want a truck. Again, they do the Google thing and tell us what we’re thinking in the back of our minds. We are validated in our materialism and brought back into the ‘insiders’ group because, yeah, we all kind of want a truck.

Though it wasn’t the highest ranking commercial, you’ve got to admit that it was attention-getting and even climbed into your mind a bit with its conversational cocky message: You know you want a truck.