Customer Carewords: Words Drive Action on Your Site

Jonathan Murphy

July 19th, 2007

Although your website may contain hundreds of pages with thousands of words, very few of these words actually matter to the people you are trying to reach. I recently finished reading Gerry McGovern’s latest book “Killer Web Content,” where he introduces the concept of carewords. According to Gerry, carewords are what drive users to action on your site. Identifying these unique carewords can help make your web site more relevant to your customers.

 In his book, Gerry talks about the U.S. Government’s FirstGov, a site that understands its users’ wants and needs. Although many citizens perceive government as being slow and unresponsive, the government’s web site is anything but; knowing that benefits and grants are the top two things people search for, they are the first two links on the homepage. The design team is doing a good job of understanding their audience and what is important to them.

 Unfortunately, many design teams don’t have such a close relationship with their customers and don’t always focus on their customers’ carewords. For example, McGovern notes a trend among airline sites to use the words “low fares” in place of “cheap” because of the negative connotation associated with “cheap.” However, how many people do you know search for “low fares” when booking a vacation? When customers want a cheap flight, they will search for just that.

 Do you think about what words will best drive users to action on your site? Have you tested your users for the carewords that matter to them?

2 Responses to “Customer Carewords: Words Drive Action on Your Site”

  1. Scott Baldwin Says:

    We used Gerry’s methodology for our recent redesign of our site. I found it helpful in ensuring we were using the correct language and focussing on the ‘tasks’ users want to complete. It’s an interesting technique and validated against Q&A conducted prior to usability testing. So far the changes have been well received and many of the tasks we exposed have seen increased usage.

  2. An Even Better (?) Data Visualization Tool — and it’s Free « World of Usability Says:

    [...] gurus–users don’t use your terminology! You may want to think about selecting some customer carewords and employing them more so us clueless folks can find you [...]

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