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Put your online text to work!

©Judy Vorfeld

Do you struggle through a maze of Internet words, acronyms, and phrases, wondering if you'll ever learn enough to successfully operate your online business? Is your brain buzzing with thoughts of associate programs, e-commerce, conflicting statistics, just-in-time transactions, B2B, B2C, B2Whatever, and branding?

A marketing expert once said, "The problem that most web site owners and Internet marketers have is that they are focusing on promoting the site rather than building the business." Sounds good. Can you do it?

Perhaps you have visited, or created, a site whose text began, "Welcome to our site. Grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and browse through our site. We want you to enjoy your visit, and hope you will take time to give us feedback. Your opinions are very important to us."

Compelling text? Um, not exactly. The problem: thousands of business owners mistakenly believe that because they introduce themselves in a warm, casual manner, visitors will eagerly devour everything on their site. Warmth in text is okay, but it usually takes more than warmth to convince people to read on.

If the average visitor takes less than 20 seconds to decide whether or not s/he will investigate your site, it is vital to give enough information or clues on your first screen to "hook" that person.


Now what? If "welcome to our site, have a good visit, and let us hear from you" isn't effective, what is? How about:

http://www.whatsnextonline.com/: "Need A Radical Business Boost? Let us help you sell the pants off your competitors, with fluff-free, creative and cost-effective marketing solutions."

If your business is dwelling in the doldrums, and your ability doesn't lie in marketing, public relations, and presentations, wouldn't you think twice about hiring BL Ochman to get you up and running? Especially when she says, "The rules of business have changed in the information age. Yet most companies are still using tired old techniques to try to draw attention to their business. We'll show you what works now!"

If you needed help marketing your snazzy online business, would these words be enough to compel you to read on? In this case, they're so good, they should! Especially with the clean, clear graphics and layout.

And we have the resourceful Dyslexia.com site at http://www.dyslexia.com: "Join us as we explore the positive talents that give rise to dyslexia, and share our knowledge about the best ways for dyslexic people to learn. Here's what we have to offer: Information, materials, training, and certification in the use of methods for overcoming academic problems..."

Did you know dyslexia often causes significant problems for entire families? Yet what do we find in the site's first words? Not only an upbeat, positive presentation, but the suggestion that there is HOPE for dyslexic people. The bright, colorful logo is a delightful plus.


Let's take things in a different direction for just a moment. Let's borrow some of the text from whatsnextonline.com and use it on a page with different graphics, just to see how these similar words come across: Whatsgarishonline: The words you see on this site are identical to those used in the previous example...if you can even find the words. Only the graphics differ.

QUESTION: Would the words on this page convince you to hire the company to create your graphic design? Can you even find the words? Moral of this digression: there must be a balance between crisp copy and graphic presentation.

Want to try an interesting experiment in creating a page from scratch? Try crafting the text as if you didn't have any graphics or colors available. By starting this way, and building from there, your site may better reflect you and your business than if you start with graphics and finish with text.


You may think I'm totally text-oriented. Nope. Look at www.spindustrysystems.com/. The home page is clean, concise, and communicative. Well-crafted text inside this nicely designed site helps convey the personality and character of the business.

Did Spindustry Systems offer sufficient information about its business and the principals? Were graphics and text focused and professional? Did you find the first screen of the first page compelling or at least unusually descriptive regarding the site's contents? Would you, based only on this one visit, seriously consider giving Spindustry Systems your business? Analyze why you would or would not, given the need.

Most small business owners have no choice but to design and re-design their sites. Rather than using graphics as a crutch, use them to complement your text. Try to keep everything simple. Simple doesn't have to be ugly or boring.

Build your Web presence, in part, by the careful, creative use of words. You and I need visitors who view us not only as effective business people, but as good communicators. Words matter.

About the author
Judy Vorfeld's operating system is Windows and her primary software includes WordPerfect; Microsoft Word; Microsoft Publisher; Adobe Acrobat; PaintShopPro; and Macromedia HomeSite. Please visit her website: http://www.ossweb.com

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