Typos are making the news again.
This month the Chicago Tribune has reported that a number of journalism graduates received diplomas listing their major as “Itegrated Marketing Communications” rather than Integrated (see… with an N). I hope they get new certificates! It may not seem much to the casual observer, but after lots of hard work it must have been gutting for the students involved.
Closer to home an article has been written for the Telegraph on how typos are helping canny shoppers bag bargains on Ebay. It’s something I do occasionally… type common typos into the search box to see what comes up. A few years back I could have bagged myself a gorgeous pair of Manolo Blahniks for next to nothing because the seller had gloriously mis-spelled the designer’s name. Shame they were too big. Obviously you have to be careful and stay safe online (check the seller’s reputation and do all you can to make sure the products are real), but I knew for a fact that these were on the level.
It can be good to find a bargain, and it can be soul destroying to receive a badly worded official document of achievement, but it just goes to show that everyone needs to take care. Typos can cost money, and in some cases they can cost big bucks.
When you are in business, you really do need to take care. I’ve said this all before, but really it can’t be highlighted enough.
As editors we sometimes have to take a deep intake of breath and move on… we can’t save everyone. Well, actually we probably can, but there are people out there who don’t want to be saved. There are a few times I’ve happened upon a business website where the typos and incorrect information were too much to bear… contacted them politely with corrections they really should make (never be condescending, always be polite)… and gone back months later to see the website still proudly displaying bad grammar, typos and incorrect postal addresses. Perhaps the businesses thought I was being cheeky, perhaps they were too embarrassed to take any notice, or perhaps they just didn’t care. They may have cared more if I had sent them a dummy bill and a mock-up of how much business they were probably losing as a result of their lacksadaisical attitude. Then again maybe not. Don’t worry, I don’t make a habit of falling upon websites with my imaginary red pen, but sometimes the errors are so painful that you wonder how the business attracts any customers at all.
So, in the rules of fair play I’ve put together a little check list for any businesses out there who may be interested. Who knows, a five-minute check could save you a red face and perhaps a few quid?
People are less likely to trust a website that is riddled with typos. After you’ve created your site, leave it a few days before uploading, then go back and re-read it. You are bound to find some things that are screaming for attention.
- Email addresses. Make sure they are written correctly. Send yourself an email to make sure that messages get to you – using the actual address from on your site. An added full stop, transposed letters or the wrong suffix can mean your potential customers can’t actually reach you.
- Contact forms. Use your contact form if you have one. Although they can be great, if they are not set up properly you may never hear from your potential customers.
- Physical address. Is your postal address correct? You want people to be able to find you, and if they are new to the area an address typo can be frustrating.
- Phone numbers. If you have a number noted on your site phone it! Transposed numbers could mean that a little old lady somewhere could be getting your business calls… not good for her or you.
- URLS. Make sure they are correct and take you where they should. Check ALL the links on your site.
- Dummy text and text markers. Be confident that these have been removed and replaced with real content. There is something uniquely embarrassing about finding dummy text in business documentation and on websites.
- Headers. Headers should be to the point and in the correct place. If you have an online shop make sure that what is under the header relates to the header, customers need to know that they are on the right page.
- Prices. If you have prices on your site make sure that they are up-to-date and correct. Watch out for out of place decimal points and missing zeros – these are the blighters that can cost you dearly, especially if you have an online shop that automatically charges the customer. You don’t want your stock being wiped out by a canny shopper who notices that one of your products is selling for £10 instead of £100
- Company names, product names and proper names. Make sure that these are spelled correctly, with capital letters and everything. To help you, why not check all the names etc., and make yourself a simple style document where you spell out for yourself all the correct spellings – you can then check your site against this list whenever you need to.
- Relevant information and typos. Make sure that everything left on your site is relevant and up-to-date, actively seek out those typos and make your website shine.
You may create your own website, or you may hire someone to do it for you, but it is extremely important that you check for mistakes and typos. Don’t rush into publishing your site, the excitement may be there, but it’s best to be your best and not have to contend with the embarrassment of spotting a howler down the line.