Caveats & Common Sense

The Wordifier can tell you a lot about which words to use and which to avoid. But there are a few caveats.

Caveat #1: Keep using ‘you’ and ‘your’ even though they get the red light.

There are words we use over and over and over and over again when we speak. Words like ‘you’ and ‘your‘, and ‘we’ and ‘our’, a.k.a. pronouns and possessives. We were torn about whether to keep these words in or take them out. In that you have to use these words in order to make sense, we left them in. AND, you actually want you to infuse your writing with ‘you’ and ‘your’. Those two words are magic when it comes to engaging people in your work because they trigger people’s brain in an extra-special way, a way that  means they can’t help but pay attention to what you have to say.

Nonprofits tend to put themselves at the center of the action. We see that in the high use of the words ‘we’ and ‘our’. Those also get the red light. Is that fair? Maybe not. Because, again, you kinda have to use them in order to write coherent sentences. But please do watch how often you use them. And see if you can up your ‘you and your’ usage.

Bottom line: Pronouns and possessives linguistic must-haves. So even though they get the red light, you have to keep using them. By using ‘you and your’ more than ‘we and our’, you can increase engagement.

Caveat #2: The Wordifier isn’t a replacement for common sense.

If you stick in words like “synergy” and “leverage”, yes, you’ll get a green light. Because (blessedly) not that many organizations use those words on their websites. But they’re still jargon-y gobbledygook. So really what that means is that you’ll be using a word at best makes people roll their eyes and at worst makes them scratch their heads. AND because other organizations have gotten the memo that these words are goofy, they’re not using them as much, so your goofy words will positively pop from the page. Neat!

Bottom line: A green light isn’t an excuse to ignore common sense and it doesn’t give you the right to alienate your supporters by using jargon.

Caveat #3: sometimes you don’t want to be different.

The Wordifier is meant to address the problem of too many organizations using the same words to describe their work. For this, standing out is good. If, instead, you are trying to describe the contact page in your navigation menu, “contact” is a good option. That’s the word users wanting to contact you will be scanning for and it’s best to make it easy for them.