Friday, June 13, 2008

Do You Have a “Web site” or a “Website”? Get with the Times.

“Web site” or “website”?

If it were up to us, the great Web debate would have been settled by now. But the Associated Press Stylebook still clings to the stodgy ol’ “Web site.” Therefore, for press releases and bylined articles, PR professionals have little choice but to use “Web site” or risk the scorn of AP-loyal editors.

True, “Web site” may be an accurate reflection of the term’s roots as a location on the World Wide Web. But that matters little because “website” has become the familiar compound word of choice for nearly everyone outside AP-alachia.

Technology, information and the related terminology are evolving fast in the Internet age—much faster, it would seem, than an old-media organization such as the AP is prepared to handle. (See also our post from February about media coverage of the Favre retirement, when organizations well versed in new media were much quicker to spread the story.)

So, what about your organization? Are you staying ahead of the interactive technology curve, or at least with it?

If you’re still insisting on calling your portal a “Web site,” you may have fallen behind on other advances. A few additional red flags that show that an organization is out of touch:

-- A “news” page where the “latest news” consists of releases from two years ago.
-- An information dump that amounts to little more than a stagnant adaptation of the company literature—known as “brochureware.”
-- Anything that shows up on the Web Pages That Suck blog.

OK, so maybe you’re hip to buzz-worthy initiatives such as search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM). But even so, if the site you’re driving traffic to is burdened by any of the flaws mentioned above, you’ll look silly to your new visitors—and they won’t come back.

Our recommendation is first to modernize design and content to make it clean, current and easy to use. Of course, you might start by calling it a website.

No comments: