In our downtime we both tend to work on things to generate a bit of extra cash. At the moment that has meant sorting out gigs on Fiverr and applying for other user testing sites. Through that she has been approached to write some other things in Swedish and that involved a paid audition job.

Aside from it being a test of her abilities I found myself baffled by the request. She was required to write marketing fluff for three different brand pages on an eshop. Each was required to be ~250 words long.

The reason for my confusion is simple – it’s terrible user design. I often warn off this sort of thing in my user tests. It looks like a wall of text and through experience potential customers have been trained to see it as needless prose geared only towards biased trumpeting of the product.

For example, on the PC World site there’s this:

“Photosmart 5524 All-in-One Inkjet Printer with an extra HP 364 combo pack of ink”l_18068781

The HP Photosmart 5524 All-in-One Inkjet Printer brings outstanding image and document quality and dynamic multi-functionality to your home or office.

Wireless printer

With this incredible HP Photosmart All-in-One Printer you'll be able to wirelessly connect even when you're out and about, printing images and documents up to A4 size.

This can be incredibly useful for the mobile businessperson, designer and photographer when pictures and documents need to be quickly created for remote appraisal or dispatch. You can even scan images directly to email thanks to the brilliant WiFi connection.

With AirPrint and ePrint compatibility, you can connect and print from your smartphone or tablet for a more seamless way of working.

[source]

There’s actually three more sections like that but I felt that’d probably be enough. It’s massively generous and one step away from being actively misleading. “Brilliant WiFi connection” ? Really?

Someone is paid to write these things. Good for the person being paid, terrible for the end consumer. I’m sure there’s a few people out there who like the whole sales-person spiel but surely they’re in a shrinking minority by now?

On my own site the descriptions are there to give a bit of character to the item and provide an organic way of including search terms. For example:

goblin-ground-crew-labelled

Bringz it in slow an’ eezy like! Oh Godz!

It’s a tough life being goblin ground crew. With nothing but a pair of paddles and a high-vis jacket between you and lunatics in flying deathtraps it’s no surprise crew turnover is so high…

This model is approximately the same size as most other popular goblin models and should be compatible with other heads and bodies (the head is a separate piece). The base pictured is just for illustration – currently it isn’t supplied with one. It’s cast in resin and so some clean up may be required. For further details see our Working With Resin page.

Sculpted by Benjamin Fox. Supplied unpainted.

[source]

I don’t think there’s any point trying to point out the benefits of the product at this stage. There’s pictures, a price, and dimensions included. If there are other features worth mentioning they get bullet points. I’d rather write something endearing that hints at a fictional world related to the product rather than try to sell the customer on how awesome everything is. I’m hardly an impartial source!

Perhaps the old way works better or perhaps it’s popular because it’s what everyone else has been doing for years. Personally I find it insulting and time wasting and so choose to run my affairs differently. I’d rather go with what I feel is the best I can do for my customers.

The point being that I find it odd that this content is still being created. Part of setting up a shop on the ‘net seems to be creating useless filler text that will be ignored for the most part. To me that seems like a waste of time. Why not pay the person to rewrite such a description in a friendly, frank tone.

“Not the best printer in the world but a solid performer for the price and versatile enough to get the job done to a reasonable standard.”

That sort of thing appeals to me. I’d rather have that than “This product will fill that gaping void in your life!” and similarly false promises. But then again maybe part of the “shopping experience” is suspension of disbelief and enjoying being lied to?

KVY6EJW

Tell them it’s going to be okay. Lie.

Well that got dark quickly…

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