Good Content, Bad Content

Welcome to Good Content, Bad Content, in which I take a look at the websites of two (or more) companies and critique them. It's true that writing is art, but there is such a thing as bad art, and there's definitely such a thing as bad web content. And while some of my criticisms may seem like nitpicking, it's worth remembering that every last word of your content affects your brand for better or worse, and even minor missteps chip away at your good name.   

I'm kicking things off for the time being with entrants from the Fortune 500, just to demonstrate that even some of the biggest, richest companies in the world could stand to improve their content. So here we go... 

Good Content: Cardinal Health

Cardinal Health's website hits all the right notes for a healthcare services company. It's understated and fairly simple aesthetically, and its content is likewise restrained, for the most part, at least as far as avoiding flowery language. I really like the header and subheader on this Ethics and Governance page...

Ethics and Governance

They resisted the urge to fill all that empty space with text and instead gave us something short and direct. Nice. (But this picture of people shaking left-handed? That's just weird.)  

The Environmental Sustainability page also has some cool things going for it, namely graphics with easily digested sentences...

Sustainability 1

 

The wordy stuff is reserved for PDFs, a smart choice, but then that section gives way to this sleep-inducing homework assignment...

Sustainability 2

Egads that's a lot of text. Well, nobody's perfect. 

I don't have much more to say about Cardinal Health. It could use some reformatting, i.e. more PDFs to make it more visually streamlined, but it's consistent, thorough and doesn't have any glaring errors I can see. In other words, this is how every company big enough to land on Fortune 500 ought to be doing when it comes to content. 

Bad Content: CHEVRON

Chevron has a lot of content on its site, and most of it's fine, but some of it could  definitely use tightening up. On one level you've got minor stuff like switching back and forth between Oxford comma and no Oxford comma, and the following subject-verb disagreement, that most folks probably won't even notice...

Chevron_error.png

But on the next level up on content offensiveness, you've got this odd choice of lower-caps-ing the section headers, which I personally think is a bad choice in nearly every case and most definitely here. Lower caps and no punctuation implies a certain carefree nature one might associate with a dog treat company or something, not one of the largest corporations on the planet. To make matters worse, Chevron even takes this nihilistic approach to the sub-headers at the top, as if they're saying, "Oh, we're starting? Alright, here goes..."

Chevron_bad_2

When you go with the lower-caps, no-punctuation approach, you risk ending up with a gem like this on the Jobs page...

Chevron_bad_3

All this time I never knew there were "Yes/No/Tips" questions. Also, for some reason they suddenly found the period key and slapped it on the end of "Before you start" and started the paragraph with that hot mess. 

Generally, the entire site is too wordy with too many descriptors and adverbs. One example I found also included a pretty major gaffe...

Chevron_bad_4

Unless they have multiple personality disorder, you can't refer to a person or persons as being "diverse." Imagine an employee of a minority ethnicity walking by and someone saying, "There goes Juan; he's so diverse." See the problem? Chevron talks extensively about its diversity programs on its site, so I'm sure they don't mean it in a bad way, yet someone might read that bungled messaging and think diversity is just a necessary buzzword to Chevron. 

The paragraph ought to read something like this:

Chevron seeks people who are driven to find better ways to power the world. People like you. Discover all the places you can work, all the amazing people you can meet and all the challenges you can tackle. We invite you to explore it all.

A little shorter, a little less flowery, a lot less offensive. 

Takeaways:

  1. Does your company sell stock? Then don't use all lower caps on your website. 
  2. Make sure you're appropriately using words related to sensitive subjects.  
  3. Pay attention to detail; I'm not the only judgmental stickler out there.