Going The Distance With Go

Last week, I took a brief look at the introductory tour to the Go Network. I was more than a little critical of their work and promised, this week, to balance my criticism by suggesting some improvements.

So, in the fine tradition of putting my foot where my mouth is – and mixing my metaphors! – here goes.

Here’s the opening to the Go Network Tour:

“Monday. 6:45 am.

“If you’re like us (and you probably are), you’ve hit the snooze button a couple of times by now. But soon, you’ll be running to work, negotiating with your kids, or off to your early class. Yeah, we know. You’re busy and you’re on the go.”

Can we improve on this? Not really. I can’t begin to imagine what purpose it is meant to serve anyway. So let’s just cut it altogether. There’s too much copy on this page anyway.

That’s an important consideration. Remember, this is a tour page for first-time visitors. Their commitment is low, and their attention span short, so let’s keep this brief. That means cutting out the dead wood.

Next paragraph:

“Like you, we love the Internet. We love its diversity and the way it helps you in ways you never dreamt possible. It surprises us everyday with its abundance of resources. Sometimes it can make us heroes in our own lives.”

Here’s my version:

“The Internet is a wonderful place, but it can drive you crazy. Its huge size can make it tough to find your way around. Whatever you’re looking for seems buried behind a thousand unrelated sites. Sometimes it hardly seems to be worth the effort.”

Their next paragraph: “Go Network was built for people like us. It’s the only place you’ll find the best of the Internet in one connected place. You’ll discover a ton of great information and really useful tools from the people at Infoseek, ABC News, ESPN, and Disney. We’re the ones behind this. Our goal is to make your life easier by creating a site where everything you need is in one, easy to use place.”

Here’s my version, broken into shorter paragraphs. (Visitors with low commitment don’t like to read long paragraphs.)

“What does Go Network do for you? It cuts away the clutter and brings everything YOU want to one place. No more searching across dozens of sites to find what you’re looking for.

“Do we know exactly want you want on YOUR ‘Go Page’? No we don’t. That’s why we help you personalize each area. Take your pick of the best from Infoseek, ABC News, ESPN, Disney and a whole lot more.

“It’s like being able to get a newspaper that covers only the news that interests YOU. Or watching a TV Sports show that shows only YOUR favorite sports.”

Then it has a heading and closing paragraph for the page:

“Stay tuned.

“You’ll be surprised each day at go.com. So, if you have a minute (trust us, it’s worth at least a minute), sign up for Go Network membership and start everyday at go.com”

Here’s my alternative:

“Sign up for some great FREE services!

“Become a member of Go Network now and you’ll get FREE personalization in the news, sports, stocks and weather areas. Plus you’ll get FREE email service and a FREE web site with unlimited pages!”

Okay, and now on the next page of the tour.

Here’s the heading: “Welcome to a quick tour of just six of the things that make Go Network the best place to go on the web.”

Let’s change that to:

“Here are six ways that Go Network can help you.”

They then say:

“Check out the valuable tools and information we’re putting at your fingertips and remarkable personalization that lets you make our site uniquely yours. See how we’ve made the web experience faster, more customized, and better organized.”

And I’ll say:

“Go Network helps bring you the information that’s important to you and your family. Here’s how.”

This page is followed by the six-part tour.

What’s my point? I have a number of points, but I’ll close with just two observations.

One. Don’t write copy that congratulates the site creators. Write copy that serves your visitors.

Two. If you’re going to spend gazillions of dollars on a site that is made up principally of words, invest a bit to make every word count.

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