Say what you mean

We’re considering renting out our home so I have been doing quite a bit of research about what kind of return we could get and what legal hoops we’ll need to jump through etc…

It was during a google search (other search engine are available!) that I landed on the following page on Lovemoney.com: How to rent out your home.

I was struck by the seventh paragraph, which reads:

“After all, over the long-term, property has proved a good investment. Sitting tight and seeing out this current dip in the market by letting your home could prove very Foolish indeed.”

I have emphasised the word foolish above, as it caused me some confusion. I read this to mean that letting out your home was a bad idea. After all the dictionary definition for foolish is:

  1. resulting from or showing a lack of sense; ill-considered; unwise: a foolish action, a foolish speech.
  2. lacking forethought or caution.
  3. trifling, insignificant, or paltry.

However, this sentence didn’t seem to make sense when read within the meaning of the whole article.

After double checking and re-reading the content it appears that lovemoney.com is actually produced by fool.co.uk, which is a well known web site offering financial/money advice.  It appears that within this context the term ‘Foolish’ actually means a good thing. Fool.co.uk have ‘branded’ the word foolish to mean the opposite of what it actually means!

There are two lessons to be learned from this: Don’t use branding when plain English will do and know where all your content is going to be published. Context in this situation is very important, as much as I wouldn’t have suggested they use this term on fool.co.uk it would probably make more sense than it does on lovemoney.com.

Content owner apathy

[Rant alert.]

My focus is mostly Intranets, however I sit next to our Web Team so often hear their grumblings of discontent, therefore I fairly confident what I am about to write translate to the world wide web as well.

We rely on subject experts to create and write content, often these subjects experts are policy officials with little understanding of what makes valuable web content. Most of the time, publishing content on the Intranet (or web) is a box ticking exercise and something done at the last minute. Very rarely do they think about the web when they are formulating and beginning to write their new policy. Often when you tell them about how people want web content and read the web you are treated to a sigh and a roll of the eyes and told to just ‘publish the content’.

Content owners often give the excuse that they’re too busy and hard pressed to worry about accessibility, well structured content and the user goals of people looking at their content. They’re apathetic to the concerns of us webmasters!

The result: a sprawling website of inconsistent, unstructured content which is too long to read and a nightmare to search and navigate. And who gets the blame for said poor website? That’s right, us webmasters.

[End of rant.]