I’m sure you’ve figured it out by now– creating awesome web content is no longer optional. If you want to build your audience, gain new customers and keep the old ones coming back, your web content must inform, educate, engage and entertain your readers. However, it’s not only about what your content says; it’s also very much about how that content is presented.
Why Looks Matter
The presentation of your written content is a direct representation of you and your business. It’s probably the first thing a potential customer sees. It’s unlikely you would arrive on a first date with that hottie you’ve been chasing for weeks wearing holey sweatpants, a stained t-shirt, with an unshaven face, or with your unwashed hair in a scrunchie. In the same way, if your web content is poorly formatted, contains typos, uses incorrect grammar and punctuation, or is cluttered and difficult to navigate, you aren’t giving your best first impression.
The Proof(reading) is in the Pudding
Take this example from an unedited web document for a jewelry website:
Wonderfull jewelries. They were so gorgeous and classy to. I love those jewelries which is so unique with its design. Chose best jewelry boxes to secure such amazing jewelries.
It has misspellings, subject-verb disagreement, and homonym misuse. Contrast the original with this corrected version:
We sell wonderful jewelry which is gorgeous and classy, too! We love jewelry that is uniquely designed. Secure your amazing jewelry in our many choices of jewelry boxes to suit any budget.
As you can see, not only is the corrected version grammatically correct, it’s easier to read and engages the customer with a conversational tone.
When you are proofreading your own web content, try these tips:
- Print out pages in hard copy. Proofreading on a computer screen is very difficult for most people. If you have a paper copy in front of you, you frequently see things you wouldn’t catch on the screen.
- Start from the end and work backward. Start with the last sentence and read each sentence individually. You won’t be able to read for continuity this way, but it makes it easier to see typos, punctuation mistakes, missed words, etc.
- Read your work out loud. If you read each word out loud, you can often catch subject-verb disagreement (the sentence just won’t “sound” right), discover words that might have been left out, or find duplicate words (two instances of “the” next to each other, for example). It’s also easier to create a conversational tone in your work.
- Allow time between writing the work and proofing it. Try to allow several hours to pass between writing the content and proofing it. Overnight is even better. The words won’t be as fresh in your mind and you’re more apt to see the document in an objective way.
- Call in a professional. Not everyone is a grammar gremlin! If spelling or punctuation is not your strong suit (and it simply isn’t for many people), recognize that, embrace it, and have a pair of professional eyes review your content.
Ditch those holey sweatpants and dress your website up in a suit and tie! I guarantee your customers will take a second look.
Lori Murray-Linek, the Proofreader on the Prowl, is a freelance proofreader and editor. She is a former English as a Foreign Language teacher and a Virgo with slight OCD. She specializes in editing documents written by non-native speakers of English, proofreading website content and blogs, CVs/Resumés, and books for self-published authors. She is also the exclusive web editor for Novel Ideas, an author promotion blog. She currently lives in Northern California with her dog, Shadow, but is anxiously looking forward to relocating to the UK later this year to join her fiancé. She’d love it if you’d connect with her on her Facebook page.