When it’s Okay to Break Grammar & Design Rules

When it’s Okay to Break Grammar & Design Rules

by ©Judy Vorfeld

Have you heard that you might lose potential customers and/or clients if your site doesn’t use effective grammar, style, and design? Do you find that statement somewhat snobbish? Consider this: do (for example) Germans, Chinese, French, and Japanese designers turn away potential customers if they don’t use good design, grammar, and style? Perhaps, although exceptions exist.

Will you break one 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 all depends.

Some frivolity might be appropriate for Vegetarian Shoes , but inappropriate for Alden Shoes. Apparently full-blown giddiness presents no problem for BatCatFrogDogShoes.com, whose wildly imaginative site also includes grammatically challenged text.

Vegetarian Shoes and Alden Shoes clearly want to sell their products which are reflected, in part, by attention to site content, grammar, and design. Yet their presentations are totally different. In both cases, however, they did their homework.

BatCatFrogDogShoes.com didn’t bother. Clearly, the owner didn’t take time to sit down and draft a thorough business plan, consult a marketing wizard like Wanda Loskot, or get with a gifted Web site 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 people – if nothing else – have fun, even if they’ll never win an award from Internet Brothers!

As a business owner you are trying to earn an income by appealing to people with money and discrimination. (It’s wonderful when they also have a sense of humor.) This means there is wisdom in taking time to include good design, grammar and spelling. If you have a serious writing problem, consider hiring someone to massage your spelling, punctuation, and grammar.

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, perhaps you’ll study and learn from some of the following most common American English grammatical mistakes:

DUE TO OR BECAUSE OF?
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 OR IT’S?
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.”

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

THEIR, THERE, THEY’RE?
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!!!


Judy Vorfeld, of Peoria, Arizona is a an Internet old-timer who mounted her first web site in 1996. Her Office Support Services began as a secretarial and copyediting service. Today, through her Web site, she also offers copy editing and copy writing, Web site analysis and renovation, as well as site design, maintenance, and coaching for small site owners. Visit her business website at: ossweb.com.

About the author

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About the author

Pretium lorem primis senectus habitasse lectus donec ultricies tortor adipiscing fusce morbi volutpat pellentesque consectetur risus molestie curae malesuada. Dignissim lacus convallis massa mauris enim mattis magnis senectus montes mollis phasellus.

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