Tip: Write what the reader needs to know

It's tempting to write what you need to say. That's good, if you're writing a book or a poem. That's bad, if you're writing a web page or any document that is supposed to be helpful or even useful to the public.

Here's an extreme example from the small web site of Pestoff Animal Control Products.

What 99% of readers want from the home page is, I presume, information about Pestoff products and an easy way to buy them. Reasonable?

Instead, this is what we read on the home page.

Thank you for visiting us.

Our site is dedicated to informing you about our highly successful products, services, distributors and clients. This is the launch page for taking you around our site and providing you with information about our business.

Use the buttons on the left to find out about our company, its products and services, its clients and our collective achievements.

You can also click on the link buttons in text at the bottom of each page or click on the button/bars within the text below to obtain specific information.

We are proud to hold ISO 9001/2000 accreditation. Click on the logo opposite to view our ISO9001/2000 certification details as issued by Bureau Veritas Quality International.

Fascinating? Just what you needed to know? Thought not.

Think what the reader needs to know. Then write what the reader needs to know.

Pestoff.co.nz — Let's hope this inspires them to upgrade their web site. Don't let's be too scornful, either: any of us could fall into the same trap.



Apr 22, 2010 • Posted by Rachel

Yes, it’s tragic!

Apr 21, 2010 • Posted by Marc Achtelig

What a wonderfully terrible example. It is even worse than you mentioned: On the home page there is no information at all – not even what they want to tell. getting there needs some extra work. On the home page there is just a button that says “Please click here to enter our site”. What a nice little exercise for the visitor. And the jumping mice on top that mix with text of the heading make it even more exciting…

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