8 words that break trust and make comprehension more difficult

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8 words that break trust and make comprehension more difficult

Hoa Loranger, VP at Nielsen Norman Group, might be our new hero.

In a recent post entitled Cringeworthy Words to Cut from Online Copy, Hoa identified five words that leave most readers cold.

In fact, it’s worse than that.

The Nielsen Norman Group has, for almost 20 years, been one of the most authoritative research groups on user experience.

So when Hoa says these words break trust and make comprehension more difficult, it’s best to pay attention.

The final list is not a rallying call against using specialist words – these can be useful when speaking or writing to an experienced audience, argues Hoa.

But, she says, “impressing your audience is not a legitimate reason for using a fancy word.”

Hoa’s five no-go words are:

  1. Utilise
  2. Enables
  3. Very
  4. We understand that… (In today’s fast-paced world…)
  5. End user

 

You’ll have to read the full post to why she thinks these five words should be banished. But in the meantime we’d like to add three of our own contributions to the list.

These empty words lack substance and clarity. They do nothing apart from give the impression of a buzzword nitwit – not the kind of impression you want to be making when writing for businesses (or for anyone, for that matter).

 

Integrated

Definition: “with various parts or aspects linked or coordinated.”

Tonight, I’ll be taking an integrated approach to my cooking.

If that sounds daft (which it does), why do so many appear to believe that using ‘integrated’ at any available opportunity makes them look smart?

 

Strategic

Definition: “relating to the identification of long-term or overall aims and interests and the means of achieving them.”

Another one straight out of the integrated school of corporate jargon.

Not sure if something sounds intelligent enough? Chuck a ‘strategic’ in there somewhere. After all, why risk disappointment with a ‘programme’ if you can impress people with a ‘strategic programme’?

Or don’t.

We’d really prefer it if you don’t.

 

Interactive websites

Do you know what they call websites that are not interactive? PDFs.

You see all those menus at the top of a website? What do you do when you click on them? You interact with them – and the web page you’re looking at changes.

All websites are interactive: that’s the point.

So stop calling them ‘interactive websites’. Please.

 

Which words or phrases make you cringe? Let us know in the strategic, fully integrated interactive comments box below.