For the Dogs

Meghan Casey

Ever struggle with creating web content that gives your audience exactly what they want? We all do.

At the risk of over-simplifying, I speculate that most of the people you and I write for want the same two things my dogs want:

    • Simplicity

    • Immediate gratification

Don’t get smart

When I notice I’m spewing industry jargon or trying to be too clever, I consider how my dogs might respond if at dinner time, I replaced the daily phrase “Time to eat” with something like: “The time has come for you to digest some processed rice and lamb rations.”

They might get the point if I said it in a sing-songy voice as we dog people are known to do. But it won’t elicit the stomping in front of the food bowl with a big doggie tongue hanging out response that I’m after.

Website users aren’t impressed with big words that mean the same thing as small ones, nor are they looking for soliloquy. Sure, they’ll understand the flowery copy. But they probably won’t be motivated to take action, even if there is something in it for them.

Don’t tease

I have to admit that I sometimes get a kick out of saying to my dogs, “Want to go for a ride in the car?” when I have no intention of taking them any where. It’s amusing. For me. Not them. At all.

Visitors to our websites don’t think it’s amusing either. Misleading navigational cues and links that promise something they don’t deliver drive people batty. 

That’s why the content and information architecture people really need to come together for the good of the pack. Combining our talents, we can create navigation labels, links and other user experience content that clearly tell the audience what they’ll see or do next.

In dog terms, don’t tell them you’re going for a walk when you’re really just taking them outside to pee.

All of this sounds easy, right? Common sense? It is. Even so, I sometimes find myself straying from these basics. That’s why a desk-side picture of my dogs is a good reminder to keep it simple and keep my word.