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Do words matter?

One thing that is increasingly annoying me is reading web sites that are littered with spelling mistakes. You can call me old fashioned on this one and I don’t care. How unprofessional is it to not take the time to edit something you are making public. Why are we tolerating this?

I can understand the odd mistake here and there, but as soon as you notice a spelling or grammatical error surely you go back and fix it up. Is the current sloppiness on the web a literacy issue or is it pure laziness on the part of the designers, the owners of the web site or whoever it was that created the content? It seems that as long as a site looks good, as in visually appealing, no one cares about the text.

Spelling bee. Image from http://jenlars.mu.nu/

I believe text matters just as much as it always has. Words and how we put them together are a critical part of the communication process. The need to use words isn’t diminishing with the increase in web based communication.

I was interested to read a recently released Change This manifesto by Derek Powazek on the topic of Calling All Designers: Learn to Write! (this originally appeared in A List Apart).

It’s time we designers stop thinking of ourselves as merely pixel people, and start thinking of ourselves as the creators of experiences. And when it comes to experience on the web, there’s no better way to create it than to write, and write well.

… I say: It’s the writing. The friendliness comes from good old fashioned text. When you visit the site, it welcomes you with a random language. Hola! Salut! Shalom! When you log in, the button says “Get in there” instead of “Submit.” When you upload a photo, join a group, add a contact…all of the associated text is open, encouraging, happy, and excited. And it has a significant impact on the overall user experience.

… Design is about communication, and it takes more than pixels to communicate.

I wonder whether design schools share this viewpoint. It would be great if they did.

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