The Vanguard View: Insight for Association Websites

Is Your Association Website Full Of Gobbledygook?

Posted by Chris Bonney on Thu, May 23, 2013



First off, I'd like to say that I'm very much enjoying Associations Now recent change in look and feel and approach to content delivery. I'm finding huge value in their daily emails full of timely, relevant and well-written articles. I find myself opening the email the minute it hits my inbox. 

Today there was a great article that really hits the mark when it comes to content. It is called:

Is Your Association's Website Too Hard To Read?

The title might lead you to believe the article has something to do with the size of the font on the page or maybe how bunched up words in multiple paragraphs on your site can be hard to read through. While those are common issues we see on many association websites, this article is talking about the jargon that organizations use in their copy that can confuse and mislead readers.

The researchers cited in the article used a tool called SMOG (simple measure of gobbledygook) to measure their findings. Speaking specifically to healthcare sites, the article states:

"...web developers should “consider routine monitoring of content readability with SMOG to increase the accessibility and ease of comprehension of online consumer-orientated healthcare information.”

Read the rest of the article for some really insightful bits about the perils of poor website copywriting.

So, in the spirit of providing value to our readers:

Here Are 4 Simple Tips To Better Website Copy:

Tip 1: Use Headings and Sub-headings

Use the natural scanning tendencies of site visitors to your advantage and provide markers for parts of your page readers may find interesting. 

Tip 2: Use Bullets and Numbering

After your headings, keep the copy brief. And, better yet, use bullets to help people easily identify critical information. 

Tip 3: Keep The Noise Out of Your Copy

Don't fill paragraphs of text with links and italics and bolded copy that impair the readers ability to read through your work. If it's a paragraph worth reading, make it easy for a reader to do that. Emphasize with headers, bullets or sidebars and let copy be copy.

Tip 4: Keep It Informal

No matter how educated or formal you think your site visitors are, always keep your copy light and conversational. Stodgy, stiff prose is for books in the library, the web is for quick-reads and quick-finds. Keep it airy and maybe even a little fun. 

A bonus tip is that if you are a content writer and you're not reading Copyblogger's blog, you should be. Excellent resource for all things copywriting. 

 So, What Do You Think?

Does your association follow these rules when writing website copy? Are you heavy on jargon and light on fun? Feel free to comment below if you think there is a 5th tip or if you have a story to share.

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Topics: associations now, copywriting, content strategy, associations, association websites

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