In the days leading up to National Grammar Day, I conducted some informal surveys involving my friends, Facebook followers and members of the Lakeland Business Leaders Facebook group to gauge the level of importance they assign to spelling and grammar on business websites.
Truth is, sometimes I wonder if maybe we’re a little over the top in our grammar and spelling snobbery here at Lorrie Walker Public Relations. We cast a lot of judgment around here when we come across promotional materials and websites that contain errors. It’s an occupational hazard, considering a significant portion of our work involves writing articles, press releases and other types of content for clients.
So I wanted to find out what others thought. Based on the survey results, maybe I would ease off my spelling and grammar high horse. Well, you know what I found from the surveys?
We asked about spelling and grammar errors on websites for doctors (74 responses), Web designers (49 responses), auto mechanics (37 responses), lawyers, (48 responses), and plumbers (35 responses). To those who endured my steady stream of Facebook questions last week, thank you.
I made pie charts of the results and if you don’t want to read the nitty gritty, just know this: the blue segments in each chart represent the people who said they are less likely to contact a business if that business’s website is rife with spelling and grammar errors.
Business owners, I hope you will take note. Your website and its content- often the first thing potential customers see – say something about you. Are you happy with the message it’s sending?
Because I conducted this informal survey on Facebook, there was plenty of room for people to leave comments, and boy did they. Many asked why I didn’t include a fourth choice.
“Is there a D? Not gonna call that person at all?” asked Shane Mahoney.
As you might imagine, those who responded were more bothered by errors on sites belonging to doctors, lawyers and Web designers.
“If you can’t pay enough attention to detail to catch grammar and spelling errors, what kind of things are you going to miss in my medical treatment?” Jenna Knight asked.
Those who participated in my survey were most bothered by grammar and spelling errors on a Web designer’s site. Travis
Thompson only picked “Less likely to contact this designer” because I didn’t have a “D. I would never give this company any business option. This is so simple,” he said. “If they don’t care about their own stuff, why would they care about mine? I shop this sort of thing all the time – this is an automatic disqualification.”
People were more forgiving of an error-filled site belonging to a plumber or auto mechanic, and honestly, I was a bit surprised. I don’t think any business gets a bye in the spelling and grammar department. Although the votes were more even, it was refreshing to see a majority of people still felt like quality mattered on these types of websites.
Several people pointed out that in most cases, it isn’t the doctor, lawyer or auto mechanic creating their own
website and writing the content, so they shouldn’t be held solely responsible for it. I disagree. Think about when you read the morning paper and find a misspelled headline, omitted word or other error. Do we look at the headline and say, “That’s a really stupid person working on the copy desk.” Probably not. I submit that we look at that publication as a whole and are more likely to say something like, “The people working at the Tampa Tribune are really stupid.” When you visit a lawyer’s website and it’s filled with errors, I doubt the first thought entering your mind is, “Oh, that poor lawyer hired a terrible copywriter.” While untrue and unfair, we make blanket statements about businesses based on things as tiny as spelling and grammar. Your words- written and spoken- say something about you.
We’re focusing on grammar a lot this week, but honestly, the cute graphic up top is right. Every day really does need to be National Grammar Day. And if you don’t feel qualified to be your own grammar Nazi, hire one. We certainly aren’t the only editors and Web content writers in town
– although we’re our favorite. Alternatively, you could get a friend to look over your content before it goes live or goes to print. You might be surprised at the errors that get caught just by having another set of eyes look over your content.