When it's Okay to Break Grammar & Design Rules

©Judy Vorfeld

Will you break some of the sacred top ten Web Design Rules for Success if you create clumpy clusters of yellow text parked on an orange background, surrounded by bouncing hippos or cattle wearing shoes? It depends.

Some frivolity might be appropriate for Vegetarian Shoes, but inappropriate for Z-Coil Footwear®. Totally different market. However, full-blown giddiness presents no problem for BatCatFrogDogShoes.com, whose wildly imaginative site also includes grammatically challenged text.

Vegetarian Shoes and Z-Coil Footwear clearly want to sell products that are reflected, in part, by attention to site content, grammar, and design. Their presentations are totally different, yet in both cases, they did their homework.

BatCatFrogDogShoes.com didn't bother. Clearly, the owner didn't sit down and draft a thorough business plan, consult a marketing wizard like Mike Fortin, or get with a gifted Web sitewebsite architect. The Prez & CEO may also have to consult with Venture Capital expert Dee Power before it's all over, as well. Money goes fast when you're having fun, and these wild, wacky people - if nothing else - have fun, even if they'll never win an award!

As a business owner you're trying to earn an income by appealing to people with money and discrimination. This means there's wisdom in taking time to include good design, grammar and spelling. If you have a serious writing problem, consider hiring a copyeditor to massage your spelling, punctuation, grammar, etc.

You agree. But while you can always delete bells and whistles, busy backgrounds, and heavy graphics, you don't have the money to pay for grammar stuff. Okay. If you don't want your site categorized as a BatCatFrogDog-type site, why not learn from some of the following most common American English grammatical mistakes:

DUE TO OR BECAUSE OF? Due to modifies nouns and is generally used after some form of the verb to be (is, are, was, were, etc.): Lucia Fort's success is due to talent and spunk (due to modifies the noun success). Because of modifies verbs. Ted resigned because of boredom (because of modifies the verb resigned).

ITS OR IT'S? Its: The possessive form of the pronoun is never written with an apostrophe, "Its title" or "What is its value?" It's: A contraction of it is and it has. "It's frustrating to write right." "It's been great."

YOUR OR YOU'RE? You're: A contraction of the words "you are," e.g., "You're up for an award, Jeff…someone said you're leaving." Your: A possessive form of a personal pronoun, e.g., "I like your graphics & layouts, Jackie. Thanks for giving your time." Both: "Your excellent application of HTML shows that you're a dedicated designer."

THEIR, THERE, THEY'RE? Their: Belonging to: possessive of "they." "Their company has kewl customer service." There: At, or in that place. "Look over there!" They're: A combination of "they are." "They're renovating their site."

To summarize: learn the right way to do things, but also learn when it's okay to break the rules to make a point. Whatever you do, try to do it with class! Enjoy the trip. But pulleeeze don't put up a BatCatFrogDogShoes.com-type site!!!

For more information, contact Judy Vorfeld

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