Does poor spelling turn you off? Apparently, it sends a considerable number of shoppers away. Especially those who are all set to buy from you online. Charles Duncombe, who runs travel, mobile phone, and clothing websites from the UK has come up with a surprising statistic. Even a single spelling mistake can cut sales by half. That’s right – if you let little typos slip through in the content on your online store, you let a lot of money get away as well. Now, who would have imagined that the spelling classes you slept through in school would make such a difference? That was meant for nerds who wanted to show off at Spelling Bees. Not for the business guys with the smarts. And the struggle to recruit people who have these basic skills is mounting. Used to sending short form texts and having spell checks correct the written stuff, young people have become unbelievably sloppy about spelling and grammar. They don’t know the difference between a ‘u’ and a ‘you’, for instance. Or ‘r’ and ‘are’. Put them all together and you have a website that looks as if it was written by kindergarten kids. On a bad day.
This was not determined by an educated guess. On the control website, sales before and after a single misspelled word were changed was checked and compared. And that’s when the enormity of the problem was evident. That’s why people are told to check their resumes for spelling errors. A single error can be a spoiler, even if the qualifications and the track record is impressive. It’s like having a terrific speaker make a mistake on the presentation slide. For those listening, the focus skips a beat. That’s exactly what must be happening online. If the website has not checked the error, are they likely to send the wrong stuff across? Those are the questions that run through the mind of the prospect.
The intriguing thing is – if so many people are bad at spelling, does it matter? Will they recognise bad spelling? The answer seems to be yes. We know something is wrong even if we don’t know what exactly is right. There is another factor at play. For me, the amateurish design is a major turn off. I have never understood how such a badly designed site – Poster, has survived all these years. It has hideous fonts, garish colour combinations and examples of such amateur work, it boggles the mind. And yet, they sell over a million licenses a year. That’s a cool $18 million per year. But here’s the thing. There are no obvious spelling mistakes. So the moral of the story may be – even if your design stinks, you better get your words right!