Does your website content sound like ‘the Donald’?

13 Aug 2016

This column remains resolutely apolitical, however, it observes that at least one of the current crop of American presidential hopefuls appears to be low on the statistics, facts and evidence needed to make rational policy judgements. 

This author wants to be particularly careful in commentary as, last time someone asked a certain candidate about a particularly unfeasible piece of civil engineering infrastructure, “it just got 10ft higher”.

Politics has always sought to make black and white policies based on life’s shades of grey, however, to examine the words of Donald Trump is to observe a master class in fakery. And the issue with his fakery is that it deals neither in lies nor truth. Its domain is the fuzz in between. His words aren’t always untrue enough to call out as a lie; however, they are often not true enough to be authentic.

And whilst our allegedly-toupee-wearing potential future oligarch is an easy object of ridicule, his rhetoric does sound a warning knell to our own communications. The cautionary tale, which we would do well to heed, is that far too many websites read like they are written by the Donald. They don’t tell downright lies, however, neither do they ever get close enough to the truth to convince the user.

  • The words talk over the user
  • The information is unspecific and doesn’t help the user decide whether or not to buy
  • The content answers questions the user isn’t asking
  • The imagery is clichéd and unoriginal
  • The communication is shy of the facts and figures necessary for the user to determine the product’s or service’s suitability
  • The video is presented in a particular format for no discernible purpose.

Perhaps Trump might be persuaded to add “Trump Copywriting Services” to “Trump Hotels”, “Trump Realty”, “Trump Real Estate Portfolio”, “Trump Model Management” and “Trump Productions”?

“Our products are just a really great set of products, just the best, really.

We checked the facts and if you check the facts, that’s what we have here (the best facts and not just regular facts) and the people have seen them. We’ve done the research (and I know research) and we’ve worked through analysis (and I can do analysis, not just analysis but the best analysis) and we’ve even reviewed the findings, and when we check the findings, what the numbers say (and make no mistake at all) is just tremendous, it really is. This product is just wonderful.”

With Trump in charge of your copywriting, the power of clarity is diluted by the fuzz of persuasion.

On your website, everything must serve the content and the functionality. The user wants to get stuff done, the website needs to help them solve problems, and the content and functions are the tools that make this possible. Navigation, visual design, decisions around colours and typography are all in place to help your potential customer find, understand, consider and act on the words they read, images they view and videos they watch.

It needs to answer their questions, and make it easy for them to act and buy.

For it to achieve this, your content needs to have piercing clarity.

Focus on that, and it can become your trump card.

Gareth Dunlop owns and runs Fathom, a user-experience consultancy which helps ambitious organisations get the most from their website and internet marketing by viewing the world from the perspective of their customers. Specialist areas include UX strategy, usability testing and customer journey planning, web accessibility and integrated online marketing. Clients include Three, Ordnance Survey Ireland, PSNI, Permanent TSB and Tesco Mobile. Visit Fathom online at

Donald Trump image via A Katz /