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Just Say No to Jargon: Why Your Terminology Makes Eyes Glaze Over

You’re making a gargantuan mistake if you think your audience whips out an industry dictionary every time they visit your site. You’re also in for a surprise if you assume your customers are already familiar with your lingo.

Do you have a product or service to offer on your website? That’s nice, but the truth is, your customers may have no clue what you’re talking about. And that could put a damper on your business relationship! If your customers don’t understand what you’re telling them, then they’ll likely navigate away from your site to find a better information source. And no one wants that!

Need an example? The real estate industry is practically a jargon convention. How many potential homebuyers actually know what escrow is and why it matters? Do they understand the difference between a short sale and a foreclosure? Are they familiar with the concept of closing costs, earnest money, and PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance)? I certainly wasn’t familiar with the ins and outs of these terms before speaking with a professional, and even a thorough Google search didn’t fully answer all of my questions!

Make a point to address confusing terms

Make a point to address confusing terms

If your site is geared toward prospective buyers in any capacity, then you should make a point to address confusing terms. Just because you can explain minute details in your sleep doesn’t mean your audience can. You could offer a convenient glossary on your site or even a page of frequently-asked questions. Make a point to ask your customers which terms they find the most confusing so you can continually update your list!

Similarly, the promotional products industry tends to incorporate lingo and jargon. We’ll admit it! With terms like vector artwork, advertising specialties, raster graphics, and sublimation, it can be a challenge to understand the world of promo items at first glance. That’s why we always try to include links to our promotional terms glossary, various product guides, and our article library whenever we think it will help. However, if you don’t have time to hunt down an answer to your question about digital imprinting, debossing/embossing, or about anything you’re struggling with, then all you have to do is contact us. Direct any and all promotional item questions to our email (info@qualitylogoproducts.com), to our phone (866-312-5646), or to our Live Chat. You can find us on Twitter and Facebook, too.

So, for your reference, here’s a quick conclusion in the form of a list of DOs and DON’Ts when it comes to your industry’s terminology:

  • DON’T assume your customers know anything about the products or services you provide.
  • DO have an easily-accessible glossary available somewhere on your site, no matter how basic the industry terms may seem.
  • DON’T get frustrated with people if they fail to understand what you’re telling them. It’s your job to help!
  • DO make note of common issues and/or misconceptions; this will make it easier to answer future questions and to compile new content for your site.
  • DON’T make your potential customers track down your information (i.e. don’t bury your FAQ page under a pile of other text links at the bottom of  your homepage).
  • DO arrange your website in a logical order and check that your most popular pages are prominently featured.

How do you handle industry jargon? Do you have any examples of well-explained terminology? What about poorly-explained terminology?



Jill Tooley

Jill has been obsessed with words since her fingers could turn the pages of a book. She’s a hopeless bibliophile who recently purchased a Kindle after almost 6 years of radical opposition, and she loves stumbling upon new music on Pandora. Random interests include (but are not limited to) bookstores, movie memorabilia, and adorable rodents. Jill writes for the QLP blog and assists with the company’s social media accounts. You can connect with Jill on Google+.

Comments

  1. Scooby DOO!

    KEEP IT (and life) SIMPLE STUPID and that is a recipe for success! You add more ingredients, you’ll just complicate things; and chances are it will take twice as long and tastes marginally better, if not worse!

    • Amanda Sneed

      Very true Scooby Doo! We want to help customers, not confuse them!

  2. JPorretto

    I kind of had a unique perspective on the promotional products industry since my wife worked here before I did. And I’ll admit, she’d come home talking about things that went right over my head that are obvious to me now. “Wait, what’s a setup again?”

  3. Joseph Giorgi

    There are plenty of terms in the QLP promotional terms glossary that I’m unfamiliar with, but that’s exactly what it’s there for, and that’s exactly why it’s useful. Making things as simple (and as user-friendly) as possible is always the best course of action.

    Allowing customers to contact your business directly when they have questions (whether it’s through Live Chat, phone, or e-mail) is a necessity, and so is providing customers with helpful tips through your website.

    Great article! I even looked up “raster graphics.”

  4. Bret Bonnet

    Great post!

    I couldn’t agree more with this point:

    “DON’T get frustrated with people if they fail to understand what you’re telling them. It’s your job to help! ”

    … taking this one step further – how about making an effort to explain COMMON terms/industry jargon on your own. Don’t ask me in a condescending way, in the middle of a big presentation, in a room filled with hundreds of people – if I know what the phrase means or not. It makes ME look stupid for not knowing what it means and it makes me hate you even more!

    I’ll admit, the current QLP site doesn’t do a lot of these things touched upon in this article correctly, but it will… and soon.

  5. Amanda Sneed

    Good post Jill. =) This is a great blog because it’s something that we all need to be reminded of once in a while, no matter what field we work in. We all get used to our line of work, and therefore use some jargon often; but we forget that everyone else might have no clue what we’re talking about. I’ve read that a very high percentage of people will tell you that they understand what you’re talking about, when they really don’t, and instead of asking for clarification, they will just move on to the next subject, or the next company, etc. So thanks for the reminder Jill. Oh and P.S. great example using real estate terms–I think lots of people are confused by that!

  6. Kyle

    Great stuff Jill! I hate when someone makes me feel stupid for not knowing industry specific terminology. I may not know the exact term you’re using, but I’m a pretty quick learner so if you take the time to explain it to me I’m sure I’ll be able to figure it out. You definitely shouldn’t think you’re above me for knowing something I don’t. I’m sure I could turn the tables and find something that I know that you don’t! It wouldn’t be very fair for me to hold that against you, now would it? =)

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