Is bad English better than no English at all?

I’m really not sure. I wouldn’t be surprised if the end result is the same: nobody finds your website.

I’m talking about the English content offered by many websites that have a different primary language. The internet’s great because it opens up your business to many more people, who speak many different languages. But it really doesn’t matter if all the other languages on your site are written beautifully if the one they’re reading is just not very, well, good.

Of course, this is great news for me because this is something I can help with – ironing out those grammatical lumps and bumps. But perhaps you need a bit of convincing as to why it’s so important, so here are three reasons (and for argument’s sake, I’m going to refer to English) for starters…

Help people to find you

If you want English speakers to find you, you need to provide words they’ll use in the search engines. It’s no good having an English version if everything’s spelt wrongly or grammatically incorrect. If you’re offering something that ‘is respectful …

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Writing for your audience: overseas students

One of my Spanish ‘intercambio’ friends has recently booked a place on a summer course in London to improve her English (which she speaks to a good level already).

She’s also booked a room with Nido, accommodation for overseas students. She received the following email from Nido, but asked me for help because she couldn’t understand all of the details.

Original letter

We are happy to inform you that your application has been successful and we have provisionally booked a room for you and your application is now pending. [Is the application successful or is it pending? This is confusing.]

In order to confirm your reservation, you will be required to make payments as outlined in your payment plan.

The refundable damage deposit and 2 weeks rent in advance is due first, shortly after receiving this acceptance email.

Please note that your damage deposit will be refunded on the same method it was paid.

A copy of your payment plan is attached.

There are three method of payments accepted:

Credit Card: Attached is a copy of the credit card authorisation …

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Organising content

Information architecture (IA) website Boxes and Arrows has an interesting article, written by content strategist Rachel Lovinger. In it, she says that ‘content strategy is to copywriting as information architecture is to design’.

So, what is IA? According to the Information Architecture Institute, it’s:

…the art and science of organising and labelling websites, intranets, online communities and software to support usability.

Good IA helps users to make sense of a website and its content. So what does content strategy do? According to the article, its main aim is:

…to use words and data to create unambiguous content that supports meaningful, interactive experiences.

Structuring a website

Lovinger goes on to discuss what content is and how a simple website might not need much IA or content strategy.

(All sites need some though, no matter how small – I’ve seen websites of only six pages that were hard to navigate around. No thought had been put into how the visitors were to get …

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