You’ve put a lot of effort into writing the content for your online store – from product descriptions to frequently asked questions about shipping and everything in between. This content says a lot about you and your store. Errors diminish your credibility. Bad links cause visitors to leave. Typos convey a slap-dash attitude. People notice mistakes and seemingly small errors can make your store look unreliable and unprofessional.
I’m sure you all know this already, but consider this a gentle reminder as we review a couple of simple steps to help you provide a superior user experience that will help attract a loyal audience to your online store.
Proofread – at least twice
Proofreading is a simple, yet vital, step before publishing because:
- Content free from errors keeps your visitors focused on your message and delivers a smooth user experience
The effect of errors in your content on your store visitors can range from being mildly distracting to completely derailing their train of thought. The errors become the focus rather than your content’s message.
- Content free from errors underscores your store’s credibility
Research, as part of the Stanford University Web Credibility Research project, has shown that web users do not just overlook simple cosmetic mistakes such as spelling or grammatical errors. In fact, the findings suggest that typos can have roughly the same negative impact on a website’s credibility as a company’s legal or financial troubles.
To help prevent overlooking something in your proofreading step, try this checklist:
- Check the most visible elements
There are a few ‘hotspots’ on a web page that people are most likely to read. Give these areas some special attention when proofreading:
- the webpage title
- headlines and headings
- menu items and button text
- link text
- brand, site and product names
- Check the formatting
If you tend to write content in a word processing program before copying to your store pages, pay particular attention to issues such as:
- missing punctuation at the end of a paragraph (caused by hasty copying and pasting)
- mismatched fonts (a paragraph appearing in Times New Roman when the rest of the page is in Arial)
- special characters not rendering properly (such as smart quotes, apostrophes, etc being turned into ‘garbage text’
- Check for potential legal issues
Look out for any incorrect usage of brand names and trademarks. Also ensure that the use of other people’s photos, videos, artwork and text are compliant with the appropriate copyright laws.
- Check for consistency and accuracy
Double check the spelling of all names of people and places. Are you consistent in the way you have spelled and capitalized words. Something in this area that I always need to keep an eye on is being consistent in the spelling of words such as color/colour or customization/customisation.Are you consistent in the names of site elements (such as buttons, menus, links, etc) across your store? For example, do your instructions mention clicking on the ‘Sign Up’ button but the button label is ‘Subscribe’. Or ‘Registration’ in one place and ‘Create Account’ in another.
- Check spelling, grammar and punctuation
Potential areas for mistakes in this cateogry include commonly misspelled words (for example – independent, maintenance, occurrence), commonly misused words (like affect/effect, complimentary/complementary, there/their/they’re, your/you’re) and common grammar traps (such as mismatching the subject and verb – we goes to school).
- Check images and video
Always check that the text accompanying an image or video makes sense. It’s can be easy to miss this if you update an image down the track. Also, double check the alt text for each image.
- Check readability
If a visitor to your store only skims the page, will they know what the page is about? Do you have the most important information in the first paragraph. Look at ways you can create ‘easy to scan’ text such as breaking up paragraphs with sub-headings, converting long sentences to bulleted points.
- Print the page – reading on the screen and reading on paper IS different. Printing out the page means you’ll see the page and the words differently and is a great tactic for spotting errors.
- Wait – sometimes you will find yourself reading what it is supposed to say rather than what it actually says. A break can help you see your text with new eyes.
- Ask someone else – if you are too familiar with the content. A new reader will be more likely to see mistakes and point out anything confusing. Having a second proofreader is one of the best ways to clarify and correct your content.