Friday, February 15, 2013

Website Jargon: From Site Launch to Landing Page

Language evolves, and one of the driving forces of linguistic evolution is jargon.

Jargon has a bad reputation. Sure, it’s exclusionary – keeping the outsiders out, but it’s also a convenient shorthand that efficiently conveys definition to insiders. Ask your spouse about conversion optimization and, chances are, you’ll get a blank stare, but experienced web writers know the term and the principles that underlie the term.

As web writers, we’ve developed a matrix of insider jargon, and we use it to exchange information quickly with each other. That’s a good thing. It boosts our productivity as a profession.

Minimalist Jargon:
The Symbol for an Open Node
If we had to define SEO every time we discussed it we’d still be talking about a better term for the activity. So, we talk about SEO from a variety of perspectives, but we all know the term “search engine optimization,” and most of us have a catalog of tactics to optimize client sites. So, I can post this piece without explaining SEO from the beginning.

Web writers love jargon. CPC, bounce rate, CTR, HTML – we’ve created an impenetrable wall of words to keep clients calling for help with their CRM. Heck, we even make up stuff. (See the buzz words thread on the discussion board for examples.)

Certain jargon enters mainstream speak. It wasn’t that long ago that “blog” was a curiosity, even among web workers. We didn’t have a blog, and we didn’t know that blog was short for web log. The 2004 US presidential conventions spent time introducing all of us to the new phenomenon of blogging.

Today, blog is mainstream speak. So is blogging. It’s a noun and a verb and, chances are, you have a blog, and you know a lot of other freelancers who maintain blogs. From “What’s a blog?” to “Read my blog” in 10 years. Today, my Aunt Tillie has a blog.

Can jargon be overused? Considering the downstream consequences of a business model and CTR, the application of jargon can impact everything from drill downs to placement of the email mod. Yeah, of course jargon can be overused, and it is. There are even websites that “unsuck” corporatese to make it understandable. Jargon, for the sake of jargon, is just paddling the corporate model up integrated revenue streams.

When used judiciously, and with purpose, jargon is a great tool. Hey, we all had to learn the language so, even some of the exclusionary aspects of jargon are positive. Keeps out wannabes, but rewards those dedicated to learning how it all works.

When used for its own sake, jargon is a stumbling block. Word glitz. It sounds good but clear communication isn’t always the purpose of stuffing a piece with jargon.

I love jargon. I study it, steal it, re-work it, apply it to other aspects of search engine marketing (SEM), I collect it and try to work it in to as many pieces as I can until is goes mainstream. Then, it’s not jargon any more.

Any way, drop me a line if you want to see Tillie’s blog. I’ll send you the link.