Put a Lid on Canned Copy

Meghan Casey

When I found out that my dog Sam might have a brain tumor, I went straight to my computer to learn everything I could. A Google search led me to a pet website with articles ranging from light-hearted topics, such as pet costumes, to serious subjects, such as health conditions.

The article on canine brain tumors was very informative and left me feeling a little sad, but hopeful. And then, I reached the last line. It read: "I hope you found this article enjoyable."

My mouth dropped and I said out loud to no one, "What? Are you serious? No, I did not enjoy this article, you oompa loompa. My dog might be dying."

I knew, because I understand some things about content management systems and re-usable page templates, that this line appears at the end of every article on the site.

Aside from it being completely inappropriate for the topic at hand – especially when the reader is likely a pet parent on an emotional roller coaster – it’s just not good practice. What’s the benefit to the user in this little pat-yourself-on-the-back, lazy approach to ending the article? Give me something I can use – what’s my next step, where can I get more information?

If you absolutely must use static content on a page template that will be re-used, make absolutely sure it fits for every possible content type or topic, or risk losing your credibility and your users. Better yet, think carefully about whether it serves the users’ needs in the first place.