This month’s Rabbit Rhetoric is, admittedly, a little more focused on processes than terminology.
That being said, it’s still educational! We work hard to eliminate as many mindless mistakes as we can, so we wanted to describe a few of the biggest red flags we look out for when working through the QA of a site. To read more about our QA process, which we call Stop, Drop, and Scroll, check out this post.
Widows / Orphans
Widows or orphans are (slightly morbid) terms for individual words that are left dangling at the top or bottom of a paragraph or type column. Visually, this always looks a little off, and from a copy standpoint it creates an odd delineation between the content and the end of the final sentence:
Websites are full of internal and external links, all of which need to be properly populated. When we go through a website during our QA process, we check to make sure that all external links open in a new window or tab and that all internal links go to the proper place. Any reference to an email address should be linked, to ensure ease of use for the viewer. We often link social icons (like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter) in the website’s footer, so we double check to make sure that these icons are linked and opening in a new window or tab.
Bold / italics / underlining
Early writers had an affinity for emphasizing their sentences with visual aids, such as italics or underlining. Fortunately, grammar, sentence structure, and the conveyance of ideas have matured to the point where we should no longer need to employ typographical emphasis in order to express the essence of a website. When we work through a site’s copy, we frequently recommend the elimination of bold, italics, and underlining; in an ideal world, your copy is strong enough to stand alone without the aid of typographical emphasis (and if it doesn’t start strong, we can take it to the next level!):
The internet is a tricky trove of images, words, ideas, and projects that all but beg for repurposing on your shiny new site. However, simply repurposing someone else’s work is an actual crime (we all know about plagiarism). Fortunately, you can purchase almost any image you’d like to use. When we begin designing a site, we’re often focusing on overall feel rather than final, finite photography options, and we don’t want to purchase images without final approval. As a result, sometimes our mock ups are showing images that we don’t yet have rights to, so one of the things we ensure during our content population process is that every image is properly obtained.
The last thing we want is for a site to go live with a hidden grammar or spelling mistake that becomes obvious the instant a new viewer sees it for the first time. So, during our team SDS, we make sure that multiple people are seeing the site for the first time. This way, the person who is most familiar with the site’s copy isn’t sacrificing quality as a result of burnout-induced grammar blindness. We check everything, multiple times over and with varying levels of familiarity, to ensure that the site is as close to perfect as possible before it becomes available to the public.