A website is the most important marketing tool for many businesses these days. It is often the first point of contact for a prospective client, who could well make a decision about whether or not to use your services based on a ten second first impression of the look and feel of the home page. It is therefore crucial that those ten seconds convey a professional, polished image. The design can be slick or simple, flash or static – whatever suits the style and budget of your business. The effect of the design is a mood thing and conveys a message on an emotional level . Your prospective client’s eye and intellect, however, is focussed on the text. The text must fit the image you are trying to convey, but above all it must be correct and easy to make sense of. A professional image, painstakingly built up with slick design, can be blown out of the water by one misspelling or grammatical error. A tortuous phrase can leave your prospective client bewildered or send them running for the hills. Using a spell-check program can weed out basic spelling mistakes and typos, but leaves many of the commonly confused words glaring out at you. If you are proofreading your own website check for the following: its and it’s; there and their: are and our. Be consistent. If you use a Capital letter within a sentence in one place, be sure to use Capital letters in every other place where that particular word is used. If you write a number out as ‘six’, don’t let a whole bunch of 2s and 5s cause chaos, they must be twos and fives in this context to match that six! If you are unsure about your use of written language, consider having your website professionally proofread or copyedited. A good proofreader will iron out all spelling and grammatical errors. A copyeditor will also make suggestions about improving the style and flow of the text, will check that links are functional, will check facts, names and dates, verify quotes and generally save you from getting egg on your face. Whichever service you choose should ensure that your text looks polished and professional. A specialist website proofreader and copyeditor will also check links for you. This is something you can do yourself though, if you have time. Be meticulous going through each and every link to ensure that it is functional and that it connects to the information that you intended it to. Look out for misspelt urls. There are lots of advertising sites out there that take a well known website’s address, change it by one letter or dash and hope to get traffic from misspelt urls searching for the genuine site. You don’t want to send your potential clients off on a wild goose chase around the internet, so make sure you know where you are sending them. Re-check those links on a regular basis, every few months or so, as dead links leave your website looking out of date and uncared for. Your website should have content added on a regular basis, to keep it fresh for clients, but also to keep the search engines noticing it. One useful way to do this is to write articles every couple of weeks and add them to your website. Again a good relationship with your proofreader and copyeditor will help you to maintain a high level of accuracy and readability, so that your website always looks attractive and professional on every page. Copyright 2007 Kit Heathcock
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