Well-written copy equals credibility

I’ve just stumbled across an article on Webcredible’s site, saying that now web usability is common place, web credibility is the ‘new’ differentiating factor between websites. Why the quote marks? Because I’ve just realised the article’s from 2004, after posting it to Twitter. Oops.

However, the comment still stands. People DO judge an organisation’s credibility based on its website (don’t you?). People form an opinion in an instant when visiting a new site, taking it with them when they leave, probably never to return again if it’s not good. You only get one chance, two if you’re lucky.

One of the criteria listed in the article is ‘Your website needs to have an air of professionalism and confidence’. How to get this? According to Webcredible, ‘crisp, professional layout with sharp graphics…free information…no dead links…an automated confirmation email when someone contacts you’.

The writer acknowledges that there are ‘many more’. I think there’s a glaring omission here though, which is more important than the other poor little items relegated to the ‘many more’ group. Well-written, error-free, interesting and relevant copy!

What’s more credible to you: a site that’s littered with spelling errors and articles stuffed with key words or a site that’s easy-to-read with uninterrupted, easy-to-understand text?

I’d say the answer’s obvious.

2 thoughts on “Well-written copy equals credibility

  1. I agree with most of what you say although my experience is that consumers give organisations more than one or two chances to get it right, particularly if they are the bigger brands. For sure they move off and buy somewhere else for the specific transaction they are interested in at the time, but they will return, hopeful that the brand will eventually get it right.
    I think this behaviour is a result of the relative recency of the web itself although in the offline world the behaviour also prevails. People still visit large stores multiple times even if they have had poor experiences before (whether that is customer service, poor pricing, stock issues etc).
    I agree totally that good copy is at the heart of a good website. Many are too wordy and are riddled with typos. There really is no excuse for the latter, even if skills for the former are not yet acquired!

  2. Hello Paul,

    Thanks for your comment; I can certainly see that an established brand would be given more opportunity to redeem itself than a less well-known or unknown name (that visitors have no prior experience of).

    Do you think it’s fair to say that for a smaller company that is trying to compete with the big brands for customers, a well-written website enables it to say, ‘we’re just as professional, credible and capable as X’?

    In which case, investing in quality website copy and design is perhaps even more important for SMEs. Unfortunately, this is perhaps the one area that a start-up business with limited funds feels reluctant to spend on, opting instead to do it themselves.

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