One of my previous employers (where I worked very happily for years) sells barcode scanners. The company developed a proprietary technology based on a form of digital photo- graphy where a barcode isn’t scanned with a laser, but photographed and decoded. This technology has a lot of advantages, and the company was eager to position it as a differentiating factor to set them apart from their competitors.
Their main mistake was that in their eagerness to differentiate, they adopted a different type of jargon. Instead of calling their products ‘barcode scanners’ they began referring to them as ‘image scanners’ and, even worse, ‘imaging devices’. This lingo was soon used extensively in their print material and on their website.
The problem is that nobody without intimate knowledge of the barcode industry knows what an ‘imaging device’ is.
Your potential customers usually aren’t intimately involved in your industry, so you have to assume they haven’t learned the lingo. Keep this in mind when you write copy for your website.
Whenever you use a term or phrase that’s common in your industry, ask yourself whether an average 15 year old (if such a creature exists) would understand what it means. If the answer is no, try a different way of wording it.
Sometimes you can’t escape using corporate lingo and industry jargon on your website, but it pays to keep it to a minimum. After all, few people will type “imaging device” into a Google search box. Most will type “barcode scanner”.