Fix-It Friday (No. 1): Dulas

Fix-It Friday is a new series of posts where I show how a website page can be improved by applying a few web copywriting principles. My primary aim is to make visitors’ lives easier.

Within just an hour, it’s possible to make a page more readable, accessible and search friendly. I also explain what else I’d do if I had more time. Look at the difference a web copywriter can make!

Dulas provides professional renewable energy services from its base in the heart of Wales. I like its website; the design’s fresh, modern and uncluttered, with clear navigation.

I’ve decided to look at the ‘About Dulas’ page from a web copywriting perspective.

Web page before (image) Good points Could do better Web page after (image) Fixes made in one hour If I had more than an hour, I’d…

Web page before

(Click on the image for a larger version.)

Good points

Individual <title> and <description> …

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Comic Sans as you never imagined

We all know that it’s not just what we write that’s important, it’s also how it looks. An inappropriate font can completely knock a message off course, rendering our communication out of touch or even invisible.

So what personality would you give the fonts you use? Is Times New Roman a dependable, retired Colonel with a moustache? Or maybe you prefer Calibri, a slightly hipper cousin of Arial, but still serious enough to roll out in front of the boss?

Well, you might well be misreading your font’s personality – poor, misunderstood little guy. Or, actually, maybe he doesn’t give a damn, because he’s Comic Sans, asshole. (His words, not mine.)

Phew, who’d have thought that he’d be such a feisty one? Thanks be to @vickysquires for sending this to me. Made my day.

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Maintaining the tone in every contact

If your website’s main content has a consistent tone throughout, that’s great; but don’t forget those other points of contact with your readers or customers. This might be rarely needed web pages (such as the 404 error page) or following up on an order.

I recently ordered a couple of t-shirts online from howies, and the company’s warm, informal tone (with a hint of dry wit) continued throughout the process. It really felt as though one person was speaking to me throughout.

For example, from the order confirmation:

A big thanks for your order […] We will be burning the midnight oil to make sure your order is dealt with to make sure you’re not waiting too long! (By the way your card will not be charged until your stuff leaves our warehouse.) […] A despatch confirmation e-mail will be sent to you as your order leaves us down here.

And from the despatch email:

Just thought you’d like to know your order is heading out of Cardigan Bay as we speak. And it’s heading your way. …

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I’m not sure what you’re on about…

Nice rant in the newspaper recently about the art world’s inability to discuss its works in a way that normal people can understand. But as one poster so accurately put it:

It’s not just the art field; it’s most fields. People should be able to express complex ideas plainly, but they confuse complexity of language with complexity of thought. Or maybe they just aren’t saying anything real or don’t know what they’re trying to say. As Mr. Canter says, abstract nouns are one hallmark of empty writing.

Lots of companies are guilty of doing this with their web copy, for example. They think that by using longer words where simpler ones would do, they make their offering sound superior.

It doesn’t though. It alienates a lot of people and confuses them…

I can certainly remember reading descriptions about art shows and not really understanding what was being said. It went over my head, I assumed the show wasn’t for me and so I didn’t go. Imagine if that’s …

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Writer? Then you’ll know Muphry’s Law

Nope, it’s not a typo. But if you’re somebody who writes for a living you’ll more than likely be well acquainted with Muphry’s Law. Earlier this week was the first time I’d heard about it, but I found myself chuckling inwardly and nodding my head sagely.

Muphry’s Law as defined by Wikipedia is:

…an adage that states that ‘if you write anything criticising editing or proofreading, there will be a fault of some kind in what you have written’. The name is a deliberate misspelling of ‘Murphy’s law’

The law states that:

(a) if you write anything criticising editing or proofreading, there will be a fault of some kind in what you have written; (b) if an author thanks you in a book for your editing or proofreading, there will be mistakes in the book; (c) the stronger the sentiment expressed in (a) and (b), the greater the fault; (d) any book devoted to editing or style will be internally inconsistent.

I know I’ve been there: that sinking feeling as you read the introduction email …

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