Content with the Technical: A Last Stand for Style. . . Guides

So, we’ve spent some time discussing the characteristics of a style guide, (as they apply to simple product records on Amazon) but now it’s time to look at some actual examples of finished content. We will also breakdown the relevant pieces and try to define how/why it works. And afterwards (because it’s important to see the wrong way of doing something as well) we will discuss some things to avoid, looking at specific content that I believe “misses the mark.” 

We will be looking at two specific pet products (Doggo!!!) currently available on amazon.com. Both technically adhere to the content requirements stipulated in the style guide we looked at last week, but to varying degrees of success. It’s important for us to “breakdown the game film” as it were, to truly see how these two products demonstrate two wildly different “styles” or approaches for copy content. 

I recommend navigating your way to these pages and taking a look at the content posted—they have dogs on beds! 

If you follow the link HERE, you will find the Bedsure® Large Dog Bed Amazon Product Page. The company elaborates on their product with these specific bullets:

“VERSATILE LARGE DOG BED/MAT fits for just about anywhere, including crates, cars and any room in your home 

REVERSIBLE DESIGN of pet mat/pillow with warm sherpa & cooler Oxford reverse provides year-round comfort 

DURABLE OXFORD FABRIC provides a comfy, safe bed for diggers, scratchers & light to moderate chewers” (Bedsure® Large Dog Bed Amazon Product Page).  

You will notice just from looking at the content above that the examples Bedsure® produced are short, following the economical writing practices I’ve covered in previous posts. More, the writer utilized the all capitalization tactic to better grab the attention of the potential customers. This tactic is totally above board on the Amazon page side and since Amazon doesn’t allow special text in their bullet content— this tactic remains a strong option and highly recommended. 

You’ll notice that the first bullet focuses on the versatility of the dog bed, stating with the fact that it can be used successfully in numerous locations. The writer here also used the “power of 3s” rule, this simple “rule” essentially just identifies three example. Three is just one of those numbers that we as audience members find easy to digest and retain. More, the author remains consistent with their bullet points, meaning they do not go off topic or attempt to cram too much information into any single bullet. 

A short, easy to read line or two will always be more engaging than the longer (near 200 character count) option. 

Now, let’s shift gears a bit and examine another example of a simple Amazon product page. If you click here, you will find the JAX PLANET Dog Harness with Handle product page. The company elaborates on their product with these specific bullets:

“✅ Must have pet products,3S (STRONG STYLISH SAFE) featured JAX PlANET products give you and your pet Joyful Addorable eXiting moment matching JAX PlANET slogan.

✅1.STYLISH: Fashionable and Colorful Design makes your Dog Stylish.Your Dog will be the Talk of the Neighborhood! 

✅2.STRONG: Sturdy, Heavy Duty Durable, Scratch-Resistant Material Outer Layer,”

 (JAX PLANET Dog Harness with Handle)

As we see, Jax Planet is doing a lot with each of their bullets (or the three out of five that I am referencing here). If you’ll notice, the company saw fit to include the green checkboxes— this is typically done as an “attention-grabber,” but only manages to achieve clunky, hard to isolate copy content. Next, I’d like to draw your attention to the odd grammar choices. Namely, the capitalizations used in the first bullet… I have no clue why the “X” in “exiting” is capitalized, but it is. I’d like everyone to remember that grammar is the tool that allows readers to decode your messages. I would also try to avoid multiple sentences in one bullet point, it looks quite awkward on the page, and makes little sense when reading through the information. Lastly, make sure to leave out meaningless phrases— remember the last note from our first style guide post found here. The note reads, “Do not include subjective commentary such as Hot Item or Best Seller,” (Amazon 4). I interpret this note to include info such as “must have pet products” (Jax Planet). This opening line is completely subjective and provides absolutely nothing of substance or meaning to the potential buyer.

Before we wrap up this post, I thought it’d be beneficial to see a rewrite of Jax Planet’s copy. Below is a cleaner look at the first two bullets, rewritten to closer align with Amazon’s style guide. 

  • STRONG, STYLISH, AND SAFE, this dog harness with handle secures nearly any size dog with anti-pull design to ensure joyful walks for miles and miles
  • STRONG AND DURABLE this dog harness is designed with a scratch-resistant outer layer to withstand nearly any outdoor conditions and remain looking new

These examples utilize the same information, but do so in a cleaner manner, one that I believe is much easier to digest as a potential buyer. This is going to wrap up our first dive into how to effectively use Style Guides. I have plans for a longer discussion about creating your own guides, but for next week we will start our talk on jargon or specialty words used by particular professions and industries that are difficult for others to understand their meaning. Jargon will help us align our content to industry standards and better understand the findings from subject matter experts (SMEs). 

And as always, if you are enjoying this content, maybe you’ve even noticed that your own writing has started to improve a little… please share this blog with a friend, sign up with your email to get automatic updates, and comment with your rage, love, questions, or even suggestions for future copy/technical writing topics. 

Also, as a special bit of bonus content check out my appearance at this year’s Culturama, an amazing event hosted by John Brantingham and a host of others. Here, I participate in a small panel discussion with A.J Orona to discuss some of the ins and outs of technical writing! Click here to see it all!

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Published by Jeffrey Graessley

Jeffrey Graessley is an R&D technical writer, poet and blogger (right here) @ Content with the Technical! Subscribe for weekly updates every Sunday morning!

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