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Breaking Grammar and Design Rules

By Judy Vorfeld

Will you break some of the sacred top ten Web Design Rules for Success if you cre­ate clumpy clus­ters of yel­low text parked on an orange back­ground, sur­rounded by bounc­ing hip­pos or cat­tle wear­ing shoes?

It depends.

Some friv­o­lity might be appro­pri­ate for Vegetarian Shoes, but inap­pro­pri­ate for Z-Coil Footwear®. Totally dif­fer­ent mar­ket. However, full-blown gid­di­ness presents no prob­lem for BatCatFrogDogShoes.com, whose wildly imag­i­na­tive inwardly focused site also includes gram­mat­i­cally chal­lenged text.

Vegetarian Shoes and Z-Coil Footwear clearly want to sell prod­ucts that are reflected, in part, by atten­tion to site con­tent, gram­mar, and design. Their pre­sen­ta­tions are totally dif­fer­ent, yet in both cases, they did their homework.

BatCatFrogDogShoes.com didn’t bother. Clearly, the owner sit down and draft a thor­ough busi­ness plan, con­sult a mar­ket­ing wiz­ard like Mike Fortin, or get with a gifted web­site archi­tect. The Prez & CEO may also have to con­sult with Venture Capital expert Dee Power before it’s all over, as well. Money goes fast when you’re hav­ing fun, and these wild, wacky peo­ple — if noth­ing else — have fun, even if they’ll never win an award!

As a busi­ness owner you’re try­ing to earn an income by appeal­ing to peo­ple with money and dis­crim­i­na­tion. This means there’s wis­dom in tak­ing time to include good design, gram­mar and spelling. If you have a seri­ous writ­ing prob­lem, con­sider hir­ing a copy­ed­i­tor to mas­sage your spelling, punc­tu­a­tion, gram­mar, etc.

You agree. But while you can always delete bells and whis­tles, busy back­grounds, and heavy graph­ics, you don’t have the money to pay for gram­mar stuff. Okay. If you don’t want your site cat­e­go­rized as a BatCatFrogDog-type site, why not learn from some of the fol­low­ing most com­mon American English gram­mat­i­cal mis­takes:

Due to mod­i­fies nouns and is gen­er­ally used after some form of the verb to be (is, are, was, were, etc.): Lucia Fort’s suc­cess is due to tal­ent and spunk (due to mod­i­fies the noun success).

Because of mod­i­fies verbs. Ted resigned because of bore­dom (because of mod­i­fies the verb resigned).

Its: The pos­ses­sive form of the pro­noun is never writ­ten with an apos­tro­phe, “Its title” or “What is its value?”

It’s: A con­trac­tion of it is and it has. “It’s frus­trat­ing to write right.” “It’s been great.”

You’re: A con­trac­tion of the words “you are,” e.g., “You’re up for an award, Jeff…someone said you’re leav­ing.“
Your: A pos­ses­sive form of a per­sonal pro­noun, e.g., “I like your graph­ics & lay­outs, Elsbeth. Thanks for giv­ing your time.“
Both: “Your excel­lent appli­ca­tion of HTML shows that you’re a ded­i­cated designer.”

Their: Belonging to: pos­ses­sive of “they.” “Their com­pany has kewl cus­tomer ser­vice.“
There: At, or in that place. “Look over there!“
They’re: A com­bi­na­tion of “they are.” “They’re ren­o­vat­ing their site.”

To sum­ma­rize: learn the right way to do things, but also learn when it’s okay to break the rules to make a point. Whatever you do, try to do it with class! Enjoy the trip. But pulleeeze don’t put up a BatCatFrogDogShoes.com-type site!!!


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