Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Blah Blah Text - Mea Culpa

I was reading of Jakob Nielsen's most recent Alertbox article, Blah-Blah Text: Keep, Cut, or Kill?, and within seconds I knew I was in trouble.

When I read the last few words of his opening, I had the uneasy feeling that I had broken a basic web usability principle. Nielsen stated:
The introductory paragraph(s) found at the top of many Web pages is what I call blah-blah text: a block of words that users typically skip when they arrive at a page. Instead, their eyes go directly to more actionable content, such as product features, bulleted lists, or hypertext links. The worst kind of blah-blah has no function; it's pure filler — platitudes, such as "Welcome to our site, we hope you will find our new and improved design helpful."

I didn't even finish reading the article before checking my homepage. Sure enough, I had a dreadful blah blah text intro. It should have been obvious to me it was bad copy - anything that starts with "Welcome" is a dead give-away - but it took Nielsen's words to snap me out of it.

My excuse for writing blah blah text is that I wrote it on the night of the website relaunch and I been working days and nights and I was genuinely excited and wanted our visitors to be excited by our redesigned website.

No excuse. I quickly rewrote the copy and purged it from 103 words to 65, without sacrificing any meat, only filler. And - this is my redemption - I was able to chop the words down by almost half and yet add another teaser about a new topic!!!

Still I was feeling guilty and ashamed. I felt as atonement I would to do a "Mea Culpa" blog posting here.

Then I went back to reading the remainder of Nielsen's article, when my shame was assuaged by Nielsen's assertion of his own "Mea Culpa". I did feel a bit better that even the divine Nielsen has his moments of weakness.

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