Using simple, clear language is the key to effective communication. There’s no point in having a beautiful website with swanky technology if it is full of turgid, impenetrable business babble.
If you’re guilty of this we think it’s a real missed opportunity to engage with your audience or potential clients, so here’s our top tips for how to communicate effectively on your website:
Don’t use internal language
We’ve all been guilty of using internal language in a public context – department names, internal acronyms or company-specific adjectives often find their way online and when they do it’s nearly always a mistake. Internal language is rarely accessible, often confusing and sometimes a complete turn-off – wasting all the hard work you’ve put in to getting someone to visit your site in the first place. Luckily, it’s a really easy thing to avoid – all you need to do is tell yourself that the person reading your words knows nothing at all about your company or how it works. If you want them to know something about you, you need to start from the very beginning. It worked for Julie Andrews and it’ll work for you.
It’s about them, not you
When you’re producing content for your site it’s important to remember that the words should be purposeful. Your words aren’t there to just fill in the gaps between the pictures – they’re to help your site visitors find what they’re looking for. You should think of all your words as signposts – and signposts can only work if they’re written in a language your site visitors can understand.
Trust is a human thing
Humans can only trust other humans. No matter how much fun it is to have a debate with ChatGPT or to tell your Alexa to shut up we know they’re machines, not humans. They can give us useful info but they can’t create a relationship of trust with us. Only a human can do that. This means that the words we use on our websites, in our PDFs and in our Powerpoints should sound like a person spoke them. They shouldn’t sound like soulless corporate business babble because words like this are confusing, alienating and untrustworthy. So, no underlying synergies going forward. No circling back. No leverage (unless you’re talking about a lever).
So, how can you achieve simple, clear language on your website? Here are a few tips to get started:
- Know your audience: Understanding your audience is key to creating effective content. Make sure to tailor your language to your target audience rather than your colleagues. Your website is not an internal report.
- Use short sentences and paragraphs: Long sentences and long paragraphs can become impenetrable. If you don’t believe us, read a James Joyce novel.
- Avoid internal jargon and technical terms: If you need to use technical terms, remember to define them first.
- Use active language: Active voice makes sentences more straightforward and easier to understand. It also makes content more engaging and compelling.
- Tone: Don’t write in in Victorian English if you’re a team of beardy hipsters. Likewise, don’t write like a beardy hipster if you’re a firm of pinstriped accountants. Your tone of voice should be authentic and natural.
Essentially, using simple, clear language on websites is critical! It helps to make content more accessible, easier to navigate, and builds trust with users.