Bad Copy — Your Worst Enemy

Opticon - Webcopyplus Web Copywriting Services

There’s a prolific villain on the loose that must be stopped.  It’s a complex shape shifter and not easy to track to the untrained eye.  The villain, my good people of the Internet, is bad web copy, and it’s infecting the Web, leaving traces on websites, blogs, social networks — everywhere! Your website may have already been infected, and the damage immeasurable.

I, Opticon, have taken it upon myself, as part of my duties of making the Web a better place, to teach you how to spot bad content on your website and prevent further infection.  So grow some virtual cajones and listen up!  You may learn your web copy has been hit, and it’s not gonna feel good.

The Long-Winded Attack

The Objective

The villain has infected your web copy with lengthy, irrelevant information to drive customers away out of sheer boredom, comparable to a virtual sleeper hold that drains website visitors, and your bottom line, like a blood-thirsty leech.

The Side Effects

Unnecessarily long-winded web copy that doesn’t deliver relevant information not only makes the visitor’s eyes glaze over like tiny honey crullers, but it also makes you look like you’ve lost your focus and faith in your business.  Your copy has been puffed up with a bunch of fancy, idealistic words that cloud your brand message rather than describing exactly why your business is the best choice.

What It Looks Like

Bad web copy 1a

Bad web copy 1b

Original source

This copy outlines the company’s vision and mission well if their vision includes boring people to death.   Rather than providing clear and concise information on the company’s mission to provide quality software products for businesses, the bad copy villain makes it sound like they’re trying to change the universe, with lengthy, vague, idealistic language.  If you’re going to make such claims you better be precise about how you intend to make the world a better place, or people will be less than impressed when they find out you’re only trying to sell them computer software.

The best thing about this example is the quote at the end, which must the villain’s cruel joke.

“Life is too short to settle for anything less than excellence.”
Doug Deane, President and Founder

I couldn’t agree more; life is too short to bore people stiff with painfully long copy!

The Scattered Attack

The Objective

The villain’s objective with the scattered copy attack is to confuse website visitors so much that they get frustrated and frantically hit the back button.  Tactics include headlines that don’t directly relate to content, and copy sprinkled with information that defies all logic.

The Side Effects

Scattered web copy that doesn’t stick to a clear, logical outline frustrates the reader and implies inferior thinking skills on your part.  People visiting your site will likely conclude that you do business inefficiently, like your thought process, and go off on tangents that waste time and money.  They’re certainly not going to feel confident about investing in your products or services if there’s no clear explanation of what you do.

What It Looks Like

Bad web copy 2

Original source

This web page is a perfect example of one that’s been compromised by scattered copy.  The headline implies that the content is going to tell us how to get a low cost payday loan, but then it goes off on a lengthy tangent about what a payday loan is, then why payday loans are good, while not remaining focused on why I should choose Maycash over other payday loan companies.  The ideal messaging is present, but it’s hidden within a scattered attack of extraneous, poorly organized, distracting information.

The Vague Attack

The Objective

We’ve all heard of the concept of ‘thinking outside the box’ and all the wonderful innovations that supposedly occur ‘outside the box’.  The bad copy villain capitalizes on this popular saying by contaminating copy with content that’s so far outside the box it’s indecipherable.

The Side Effects

It’s true; people were once romanced by this enigmatic concept, thinking that if they didn’t get it, maybe it was just too advanced for their comprehension. “Wow! I don’t get it. They must be smart — really smart!”  Unfortunately, it’s been overused and has become recognized as a mask for inadequacy, prompting people to direct their eyes to competitors that outline concrete results.  The villain, in this case, has made your business look dishonest, or like a space cadet who can’t connect the dots.

What It Looks Like

Bad web copy 3

Original source

This is a literal example of how vague the box can be.  This copy doesn’t give the visitor any indication of what kind of innovative things Stratix is doing with their document management services.  And I don’t know about you, but document management ‘outside the box’ doesn’t sound sexy to me at all.  It sounds ridiculous.  I prefer to keep my documents ‘in the box’, thank you very much.  Then I don’t lose anything.

Bad Spelling and Grammar Attack

The Objective

The bad content villain wants to make you look completely incompetent by littering your copy with spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors.  Sometimes, for an extra evil touch, he’ll even copy and paste the exact same errors throughout your website!  What a jerk.  My sidekick, The Deleter, would love to sink his teeth into this one.

The Side Effects

This is pretty straightforward.  Bad spelling, grammar and punctuation makes you seem either: a) like you’re not overly bright; or b) that you cut corners and don’t bother getting your marketing materials proofread.  This will probably lead potential customers to think you’re also incompetent in business, and remove themselves from your prospects altogether.

What It Looks Like

Bad web copy 4

Original source

This site endured a particularly cruel hit by the bad content villain.  In fact, it’s so bad it looks like it’s been abandoned altogether (I think it’s safe to say IE 6 is no longer the “most common ‘borwser’ on the Internet”).  If you look closely, you’ll see the same typos repeated throughout the site. Perhaps the company went out of business after failing to qualify their name. It’s a real shame.

Help Fight the Evil!

By learning how to recognize these bad copy attacks on your own web content, you’re one step closer to building unstoppable web branding, and fending off the damaging effects of bad copy.

Stay tuned for more of my tips for making the Web a better place.Webcopyplus superheroes

— Opticon, Defender of Good Web Copy

Follow The Deleter and I @Opticon_.

One response to “Bad Copy — Your Worst Enemy”

  1. Sakshi says:

    Thank you so much for this article. Really helpful. Writing web content for so many years, I still some times get into a situation where I am forced to think “Am I offending the readers (endusers) by writing a bad web copy?”

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