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!
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org), 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 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+.