Why buzzwords, jargon and acronyms are business buzzkill

The web design industry is awash with buzzwords. For most businesses, buzzwords are a big turn off. Ask yourself this: why should any business care about CSS, mashups, XHTML, PHP, Ajax, flash mobbing, or the lamentable Web 2.0?

I think you know the answer to that one. For most businesses, the web and all its many attendant acronyms, jargon and buzzwords are complicated enough as it is — no business ever really wanted a website:

“No one who paid to have a website developed actually wanted a website; they want the web to help them promote their business. I’m going to help you promote your business on the web, make money over the web, and measure what you’re doing on the web.”

WYNIWYG (What You Need Is What You Get)

My job essentially involves me either fixing something someone else broke, or me making a better box of tricks. If something is broken, I’ll try and fix it the best way I can without it costing my client a small fortune. If that fails, I’ll make a better version. It’s that simple.

The only time I will mention any kind of industry jargon is when I absolutely have to and there’s no alternative. The vast majority of my clients really don’t care how I do what I do, so long as I do it cost effectively, efficiently and as quickly as possible.

All good business is about good communication; talking complex concepts through in simple analogies and terms. The moment technicalities creep into the conversation, the door is opened to fear, uncertainty and doubt.

“Is that going to be expensive?”

“That sounds really complicated!”

“But I thought you’d be handling that for me?”

These are the kind of questions and exclamations that need to be addressed head on.

Needs versus Features

If someone tries to convince you to have a really slick animation or video on the front page of your website, ask them how that benefits you and will all your visitors be able to see it, and if not, what will they see instead.

If someone tries to convince you to have your entire website redesigned, built using a load of technologies you’ve never heard of before, ask them how that benefits your visitors, yourself and your sales & marketing activities.

If someone tells you they can get you onto Google’s first search page, ask them how, when, with which web pages, for what keywords, are their methods ethical, for how much, and for how long.

Each of these scenarios have more wrong answers than right. Each scenario could easily cost you considerable sums of money with very little obvious return for your investment. Each scenario can easily involve you being sold a feature dressed up to look like a need.

Don’t get me wrong, slick animations and redesigned websites all have their place, but being blinded by buzzwords, jargon and features in needs’ clothing does not a business strategy maketh.