seen + learned

Try again ... this time in English.

Posted: Tuesday, March 17, 2009 | Posted by Debby Levinson | Labels:

One of the most frequent problems we see on websites is jargon-heavy text. There are many reasons why this happens: maybe the writing team is so used to serving an internal audience they don't realize that others can't understand their content; or maybe the website serves an industry that thrives on buzzwords, such as consulting. Sometimes it just happens by accident or because no one has time to really review the text before it gets posted. But no matter the cause, the result is almost always a site that feels insular, unfriendly, and worst of all, crammed with content that doesn't resonate with the audience.

One of the worst offenders on many sites is the legalese on Terms of Use pages. Hardly anyone other than lawyers actually reads these closely; they're just long, impenetrable documents we all have to pretend we've read before we can check off a box and complete a registration form.

But this week, the Consumerist singled out Aviary, a site providing online graphics tools, for their radical and simple approach to their Terms of Use page: they provided an English translation paralleling the legalese. Using concise and friendly language, Aviary spells out everything you'd want to know about their Terms of Use, from who owns the graphics you create on the site, to the different payment plans they offer, to the licensing agreements for site content. Aviary's approach transforms an unreadable page into one that anyone can understand, a goal consistent with their mission to "make creation accessible to artists of all genres."

We hope more companies follow Aviary's lead and make their content clear and easy to read, which is a more successful way to reach their audience than "buzzword compliance."


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