Good Writing – It Makes A Difference

How much does the quality of the writing on your website really matter? Let’s take a look at some before and after samples. The before samples are portions of text taken from actual websites. (I’m guessing the companies would rather remain anonymous.) The after samples show the benefit of a little “writing repair.”

I’ll start with one of my favorite examples. The company is a website design firm that offers content writing and technical services to international clients. They’re selling good writing!

Before

For the purpose of retaining in the international markets, it becomes important for the organizations to have a creative and optimized website. This is being accomplished by hiring experts who can write the contents for their websites that can be used globally with the contents being optimized as per the local needs.

This helps the companies to reduce the coordination effort in addition to ensuring that quality is maintained. Since, content/technical writing is something very important, hence it involves a lot of effort also.

After

In order to succeed in international markets, organizations must have creative and optimized websites. This can be accomplished by hiring experts who can write website content that will be effective globally, and is customized to have the greatest impact on local targets.

Our service helps companies save time and effort, while ensuring that the end result is of the highest quality. Because content/technical writing is very important, sufficient resources must be dedicated to the task, and it must be done by people who have the requisite talent and experience.

If you want to increase business, which sample do you choose?

Let’s look at another one, from a manufacturer of food packaging:

Before

In addition, under the strong faith of “Even a single dirty is not permitted” we have continuously performed “zero defect movement”…

After

In addition, under the strong belief that “even a single germ is not permitted” we have continuously achieved a standard of “zero defects.”

This next one is part of a welcome message:

Before

Producing the first-class brands and satisfying our customers are made only possible by people. If our employees are not capable to make such products or if they have no will to do so, not only such goal cannot be achieved at all, but also there can be no room for promise, growth and development.

After

Achievement of our primary goals – producing first-class products and satisfying our customers – is only made possible by our employees. If our people are not capable of making fine products, or if they haven’t the will to do so, then not only will we fall short of our goals, but there will be no hope of growth and development.

If you think the kind of writing I’m showing you only occurs on websites of foreign companies, take a look at these samples from the site of an internet services company right here in California:

Before

Instead of creating a cool looking web site (what is nice to show your friends) we will create a functional web site to achieve the company’s goals and satisfies the visitors.

After

Instead of creating a cool looking web site (that will impress your friends) we will create a functional web site that achieves the company’s goals and satisfies your visitors.

Here’s more from the same site. In this section, the company is offering tips for selling on Ebay:

Before

You can sell you products as an auction, a “Buy it Now” or sell it in your Ebay store.
Can I make a lot of many selling on Ebay?
There is still a lot of potential, however there is significant more competion entering this market daily.

After

You can sell your products by auction, “Buy it Now,” or sell them in your Ebay store.
Can I make a lot of money selling on Ebay?
There is still potential, although many competitors enter this market daily.

What’s your reaction? When you read the before samples, is your attention diverted by obvious errors? Does your brain disengage when it’s too much work to understand what the writer is saying? Does the promise of excellence fall flat when the company hasn’t taken the trouble to make sure its own website content is correctly written? More importantly, when you read the after samples, are you better able to focus entirely on the message?

If you want to inspire confidence and attract customers, you need to be sure that the writing on your website is compelling and effective. It can’t be either of those things if it’s not also correct.

For more information about “writing repair” for websites, brochures, and regular business correspondence, go to my website, or contact me at rose@jlrco.com.

12 Comments

  1. You are a talented lady, l am sure you will have a great success i n this matter..
    Good Luck..

  2. Thank you, RECO.

  3. I will not contest your claim, as it is undeniably true across all businesses and in all industries. Your examples, however, are poor candidates for the representation of your point. The first three examples you present are obviously the result of a non-native English speaker and the last two are trite at best.

    You have an excellent point and I think it would be even more effective if you were to cite examples from Reuters, the Associated Press, other large publications, or professional US-based websites. You will have no trouble finding errors in any of them and all of the errors are of a type that is indicative of a language degradation and genuine ignorance of correctness.

    Case in point: It’s Not OK to Be Incompetent!.

  4. In the second sentence of the second section of the first example, didn’t you mean “must be dedicated” and not “must dedicated”?

  5. Brad, First of all, thanks for taking the trouble to leave a comment. The examples I chose are indicative of the type of writing I encounter when working with my clients. Some of them are foreign companies staffed by non-native English speakers, so my examples are both typical and relevant. Foreign companies can really benefit from my help when they want to do business in the U.S. I work with companies that are willing to acknowledge that some of their employees have a problem with writing. I don’t think Reuters and the other large entities are in that category.

  6. Diesel, You caught me. Nobody’s perfect, although I try to be. I am going to correct the mistake, but leave your comment. Thank you.

  7. Okay, I’ll take this test for 100.

    Before – Edited by me

    For the purpose of retaining market share in the international community, it becomes very important for an organization to have a creatively optimized website. This should be accomplished by hiring experts who can write the contents for the organizations’ websites .
    These websites should then be optimized for global use, in the pursuit of a specific organization’s needs.

    This ensures that quality is maintained and coordination requirements reduced. A well prepared website will have all the content and technical requirements fullfilled, producing an important product through meticulous work.

    Now let’s see how well I did by reading the After portion.

    The changes are different, I can see. While I ended the first paragraph with the focus on global needs, through breaking the last big sentence, the After effect restructured the last sentence to end on local targets.

    The thesis of my second paragraph needs to be more specific in denoting a topic subject. Although I favor my last sentence over the After’s last sentence. I just think it has more impact in terms of noting “meticulous work” as well as mentioning products and the website. The after version focuses on the “sufficient resources”, which is just a tad too negative in terms of motivating potential clients with such a conclusion sentence. I would favor instead of implying that the customer has a lot of work to do to pool resources to pay you, that you have a lot of “meticulous work” to do for them.

    Going on to other things, I’ve noticed that when reading something that is badly spelled with many typos, that I can skip over them without much notice and still understand the core of the subject being communicated. Now others, looking at the same thing, are unable to understand it and have to ask for further clarification. While further clarification on muddy writing is a good thing, I can often see to the core meaning even without such a clarification. I am of course, refering to internet communication on forums.

    The glaringly illogical errors that judy has posted, are of course too corrosive a force on meaning for me to effortlessly skip over. Often times I do not notice spelling errors in other people’s writings because I do not look at the letters of a word after the first 3 or 4 letters. This often makes me prone to calling people by shortened versions of their names. Book for Bookworm. Sala for Salamander. Don instead of Quixote.

    In practice, I will notice errors when they are consistent. Errors in communication, disrupt the continuity of my thinking to such an effect, that I have to reform the sentence into what it really means. If I don’t do that, I can only acquire the subject, through looking at the keynote words, instead of what the writer seeks to communicate about that subject.

    While I knew more or less that the writer was refering to webpages, his meaning was obscured by the fact that I was busy reconstructing his sentences.

    Some common errors I find myself making is converting not to now. Since I only look at the first two letters for verification of what a short 3-4 letter word is, I do not often notice that not has become now. It is the same for typing, curiously. I consciously only direct my fingers to hit the first letter of the word I am spelling. Everything is automatic more or less. I do not remember typing anything after the first 1 or 2 letters of a word. I not only do not remember whether I hit the right keys or not, I do not remember any feeling from those fingers hitting any keys after the 2nd letter.

    I have the benefit of knowing two languages. My native language and English. Therefore I know what happens when you start translating things concerning dialogue. With written forms, you do not even have the benefit of body language and voice tones to guide you, therefore the meaning is even more ambiguous. Certain translations from my native language to English, looks okay on the surface, but the meaning is totally absent in English. For accurate translation you must have fluency in both of the languages being translated. You have to be fluent enough to know the meaning of the original base language, both the context as well as the literal meaning, and then somehow translate it into an English term that has similar context and literal meanings. You could translate something literally, and it’ll end up as Firebloom Lotus Power or something. When what it really means is Power of Mercurial Serenity. Fire being ever changing, mercurial. Lotus meaning stability and balance.

    Merchants have often been required to learn the language of those they deal with. Because even with the best translators, you still lose much in the translation. With English, it is rather more difficult simply because English has many words that mean the same thing with different shades. So you cannot just take a Japanese word and translate it to its nearest English word. Chances are it will not mean the same thing sentence to sentence.

    Because you can only use one word in English, that specifically describes something, the translation becomes limited. For languages with fewer vocabulary, one of their words have multiple meanings. If you choose one word in English to represent that meaning, you lose the rest, the context. You would have to translate it by changing the grammar and creating new English sentences. Time consuming and not effective for real time communications.

    Fluency, is I believe, the ability to communicate advanced and esoteric concepts through the spoken or written form. Any mistakes I made in the this comment, has not been proofhead FYI.

  8. Ymarsakar, I think you deserve 100 for that. You went a step farther than I did by adding judgement about what should be emphasized in modifying the sample. When I am working with a real client (as opposed to text I spotted on the internet) I have the opportunity to talk to the writer. Once we’ve discussed what needs to be said, there’s more leeway. In this example, I limited my changes pretty much to correcting only what was written.

    I think most people are like you in that they can filter out certain mistakes when they are reading. How much those mistakes matter depends on what’s being read. In a business setting, where a company’s image and credibility might be damaged if lots of sloppy writing makes it out the front door, getting everything right is more important. That’s not to mention the disputes that occur when you write one thing while meaning another.

    I completely agree that simple translation may not convey everything. It all depends on the purpose of the writing, and how complex or nuanced it is. Sometimes the extra work is important, sometimes you can skip it.

  9. […] Judy Rose has an interesting article on the importance of writing style and Paul Stamatiou also has some excellent tips on structuring blog articles. […]

  10. Thanks for this. So much bad writing on blogs is excused by the informality of the medium. However, writing is writing and reading is reading, so the fundamental still always applies: reading is hard, so show your readers the courtesy of working a little longer to make your writing clear and vivid.

    This will also give your blog the advantage being distinguished from all the other cluttered, thoughtless, unreadable blogs.

    Dave Edwards.
    Log Buffer

  11. […] Rose has an interesting article on the importance of writing style and Paul Stamatiou also has some excellent tips on structuring blog […]

  12. […] Rose has an interesting article on the importance of writing style and Paul Stamatiou also has some excellent tips on structuring blog articles.My writing style has […]


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