Even now, after writing copy for literally hundreds of websites, I still feel that I owe it to my clients to write fresh, interesting words. I do my best to minimize cliché sales phrases like “We’re dedicated to your success” and “We have the experience and expertise to get the job done right”.
I’ll be blunt. Uninspired, cliché words are just downright tacky and don’t belong on a website. If you’re using them, they’re a clear indicator that your company is boring and your products or services probably suck. Ok, there are lots of sub-standard companies out there that are successful. But, the bigger problem with these clichés is that they disengage visitors to your site who are looking for something new or different, not just the same words that they’ve seen on countless other sites.
Just as important as the words on a website are the visual elements. And, photos are the most noticeable images that can position you as forward-thinking and creative or generic and tired. Unfortunately, the same batch of cliché, worn-out stock photos have made it onto the pages of a vast number of websites. The following ten images are the worst of the worst. If you have them on your site, I’m pleading with you to remove them immediately. They’re horrible, and they’ll suck the life out of your business.
#1 – The over-the-top, happy customer service rep excited to help your customers
Your ten dollar an hour customer service reps sitting together in a boiler room aren’t perky and happy. They’re disgruntled and pissed off that you haven’t given them a raise in two years. This picture isn’t fooling anyone. Unless this gal is some kind of magician, she probably isn’t really working at all of the thousands of non-descript IT support services companies that have pasted her on their sites.
#2 – The “we mean business” handshake
I’m not exactly sure what this is supposed to mean, but it’s everywhere on the Internet. Are these guys dancing in front of the UN? Are they shaking on a clandestine foreign arms sale? What is it? We get that you’re in business. We don’t need an image of two dudes shaking hands to figure it out. Take this off your site, please!!!
#3 – We hire more than just young white people
By placing this image or one like it on your website, you’re making me wonder if you’ve just settled a discrimination lawsuit. Do you really need to put a photo up that includes an old guy, a Black, an Asian, a Hispanic, and a couple of mixed ethnicities? If you really are diverse, let’s see it for ourselves. Post an image of your real team. I’ll be impressed when you have a transgender, someone in a wheelchair, and an albino. Until then, let’s keep the staged diversity photos off your “About Us” and “Careers” pages.
#4 – We’re way smarter than you
This doesn’t make you look intelligent, it just tells me you’re pretentious. You’re not going to convey your intelligence online by slapping a Rubik’s cube or a chess game on your “solutions” page. Want to look fresh? Add some other 1970s fad item like a mood ring, toe socks, or a pet rock. Now, that would intrigue me.
#5 – We’re so eco-friendly
The newest of the cliché photos, it’s fast becoming a leader in ridiculousness. Every company that buys carbon credits or who has a CEO driving a hybrid has this photo or something equally as self-righteous on their site.
#6 - We’re really good at making graphs
This slightly phallic graph is a tried and true favorite for financial and real estate companies. What does it really say? “We don’t yet have any provable figures to present to you so we’ll show you this graph that’s also on all of our competitors’ sites too! We hope you’ll be impressed. “
#7 – Ok, we’re just super cool and hip
We’re your cutting edge team of “professionals” who knows way more than you do about technology, and we’re going to the local bar after work to get hammered during happy hour. Would you like to join us?
#8 – Our products/services make your life easier
Of course, once we buy what you’re selling, life will be so much better. I often do this with my family after making a purchase online. Don’t you?
#9 – We’re global!
Being an international business just isn’t quite as impressive as it used to be. Any dork with an online business can sell to another country. All you need is a $10.00 Go Daddy site and a PayPal account. So, the fancy photo of the world on your computer isn’t quite cutting it anymore.
#10 – Let's Connect
Interchangeable with the “customer service” gal, the “connect with us” gal is standing by to take our call. Is this who is really answering your phones? How about a shot of the real team of outsourced phone workers in Mumbai? I want to see their smiling faces on your site.