The most overused words on web sites

First of all, a big shout out to the participants in yesterday’s Web Writing workshop at the University of Adelaide.  Good to meet you all and look forward to seeing you win the good fight in improving the content on your web sites.

Now, onto today’s blog post … the most overused words on web sites.

There are some words that do absolutely nothing to help your web site.  We discussed this in our session yesterday and everyone seemed to agree – these words are overhyped, overused and make your web site read more like an email missive promoting cheap Canadian medicine or something called Viagra, which you may have heard about.

So, with no further ado, the top 10 most overused words on web sites ….

  1. Interactive: grab a tattoo gun and imprint this on the inside of your eyelids so that every time you blink you see this phrase: ‘web sites must be interactive by nature’.  A web site should be a two-way conversation or transaction – if you have to state your web site is interactive, it probably isn’t.
  2. Solution: especially if you work in IT.  What I find interesting is that I often hear of software or an online tool described as a solution, but it often causes more problems than it answers.
  3. Unique: yep, you’re unique.  Just like everyone else.
  4. Innovative: see unique.
  5. State-of-the-art: overdone phrase which doesn’t actually stand out from the crowd.
  6. Sustainable: the favourite phrase of governments everywhere.  Don’t tell us you are sustainable, show us what you are actually doing.  It’s more interesting and is better at getting your message across.
  7. Cutting-edge: this is an interesting phrase because in my experience a percentage of people don’t trust something that is new – are you alienating your audience unwittingly?
  8. World-leading: no you’re not.  Unless of course, you are, in which case show us HOW you are world-leading.
  9. Groundbreaking: see cutting-edge.
  10. Information: your web site, your social media and anything you put out in the online space is ALREADY information. There’s no need to label it. So if you have a section on your site called “Information” without even qualifying who it’s for (which is okay), then you’ve got an outbreak of our #10 redundant web site word.

So how do you get around these words?  Easy.  Instead of using them, why not tell your audience WHY you are unique or ground-breaking?  Show them.  Don’t hide behind a cliche – use it as an opportunity to provide good information that gives your organisation credibility, a personality and engagement with your audience.

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