I get about 200 emails a day and most of it is crap, so I scan and delete quickly. In my haste, the exclamation point looked like the letter "t." I thought the subject was "no more paint." Since I have less interest in vinyl siding than in medication, I deleted the message. I reconsidered and retrieved it from the deleted list. The email was from Walmart, pushing Alleve, Excedrin and Advil. I'm a Tylenol man. I deleted it again.
This reminded me of other textual ambiguities that can be problematical, amusing or both.
- I frequently get email from Logmein.com. Maybe I have a powerful fixation on Chinese noodles. I always read it as Lomein -- not log me in.
- Avoid website addresses ("URLs," "Uniform Resource Locators") with ambiguous word breaks where it’s not obvious which word a letter belongs to. These URLs can confuse potential customers and might cost you business.
- Whenever I see releaseyourwriting.com, I automatically pronounce it as “releasey our writing,” not “release your writing.” (The link takes you to a terrible book. Stay away.)
- Watch out for hidden words that may stick out, as in thepenismightierthanthesword.com.
- An uncommon word may look like a more common word. In today's New York Times there is a headline that says, "Nonstars Come Out as Spurs Rout the Heat." I quickly read "Nonstars" as "Porn stars."
- Avoid URLs with consecutive identical letters such as whattoeat.com. They can confuse potential customers and cost you business because people may think you were being cute and you chose to spell it as “whatoeat,” or they’ll just mistype.
- Years ago I designed a website for a company that sold battering rams, sledge hammers and other equipment for police and military SWAT teams. The web address uses cute spelling, swatools.com. They may lose business from potential customers going to the useless swattools.com.
- If you must have a URL with ambiguous spelling, register BOTH versions, and have one automatically redirect traffic to the other.
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photo from http://drgullo.com/. Thanks.