* The Business of Software

A former community discussing the business of software, from the smallest shareware operation to Microsoft. A part of Joel on Software.

We're closed, folks!


» Business of Software FAQ
» The Business of Software Conference (held every fall, usually in Boston)
» Forum guidelines (Please read before posting!)


Andy Brice
Successful Software

Doug Nebeker ("Doug")

Jonathan Matthews
Creator of DeepTrawl, CloudTrawl, and LeapDoc

Nicholas Hebb
BreezeTree Software

Bob Walsh
host, Startup Success Podcast author of The Web Startup Success Guide and Micro-ISV: From Vision To Reality

Patrick McKenzie
Bingo Card Creator

Please help to estimate quality of English


I've hired new worker who plan to use for copywriting needs. I am not native English speaker, so can't tell is her English good or bad.

1) Could you please estimate the quality of English on this page form 1 to 10 (1 very poor, 10 - ideal): http://www.icondesignlab.com/en/mobile/
2) Is this quality enought to post text to my website, or I need to order proofreading first?

Regards, Roman Rudnik.
  http://www.IconDesignLAB.com - Icon Design + websites, logotypes, skins, other...
  http://jetScreenshot.com - a must have for every shareware author
Roman Rudnik Send private email
Tuesday, April 09, 2013
It's understandable but it's VERY clearly not the work of someone for whom english is their first language.
Drummer Send private email
Tuesday, April 09, 2013
The arrows to keep people scrolling are a nice touch :o)

The copywriting is very tame, rather clunky and, as mentioned above, maybe not from a native English speaker?

Also, as you your product seems graphic-based you really need some more graphical elements, a shot of your products GUI, some samples of end-results, that kind of thing.

I'll be available in about a week's time but really some simple text and lots of graphics will probably work well for this.

Reluctantlyregistered Send private email
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Actually looking again you DO have plenty of samples there but they're hidden behind links.

There's not much "wow factor" if people have to scroll back up and click links. Perhaps reframe the text/page to make viewing such samples a more logical process?

Reluctantlyregistered Send private email
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Disclaimer: I am not a native speaker either.

This copy is doing you more harm than good. Throw it away. Have a native speaker, preferably a professional B2B sales copywriter, put together 2-3 variations, then A/B test them.

Check out http://copyhackers.com/ - they have a good e-newsletter and blog.

Read "Selling the Invisible" by Harry Beckwith.
Dmitry Leskov Send private email
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Those arrows although a good idea can backfire

On my screen the page fit the screen in a way that only the first arrow was visible and I couldn't get the idea at all what was going on. Than I saw here someone mention/arrows and scrolling in the same sentence and only than I saw there is more to page if you scroll.

Make sure that at list first two arrows are visible on most screens (make them,shorter,or smaller font, or smaller distance between block of text...)
alexandar Send private email
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
The writing is horrific and looks like a spoof site. At best, it looks like it was written by a child, but even then, there are language constructs that no native English speaker would use.

You'd probably be better off with Google Translate.

Get someone British (or American, Canadian, Australian, etc) to do it for you.
Scorpio Send private email
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
IMHO it isn't terrible. But it obviously isn't written by a native English speaker.
Andy Brice Send private email
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Thank you everyone for the comments. I understood the quality is bad, but could you pleas esimate how bad (1= very bad, 10-ideal)?
Roman Rudnik Send private email
Thursday, April 11, 2013
It's been edited, I think, since the first time I read it (though I'm not sure).

In terms of English only, I'd give it an 8 out of 10, where 10 = grammatically perfect and using standard English expressions and usages (but 10 doesn't mean it is brilliant prose like H.L. Mencken wrote it).  There are seven "usage" mistakes that I can see, and possibly no grammatical or spelling mistakes (and at least no obvious ones). 

In terms of marketing effectiveness...that's a different matter.  But you didn't ask about that.  (But you should)
Racky Send private email
Thursday, April 11, 2013
I give it literally 1 out of 10. Just had another look and couldn't stand to finish the page, as it was so bad.

This is obviously bad for you, but also for your potential customers, as it might put them off an otherwise worthwhile product.
Scorpio Send private email
Thursday, April 11, 2013
Scorpio, are we looking at the same page?  This one:


Is there some other English language that I am not aware of ?  I counted seven minor usage errors, some of which are arguable as not errors, and no grammatical or spelling errors--is that really worth only a 1 out of 10?

I think perhaps you are evaluating it for marketing savvy, not the English language. 

Also, may I (not so humbly) suggest that you consider swearing off the common "literally" error?
Racky Send private email
Thursday, April 11, 2013
Scorpio (and the OP), THESE are 1 out of 10s--and hilariously so:

Racky Send private email
Thursday, April 11, 2013
Hmmm. Guys, now I am totally confused :)

Is http://www.icondesignlab.com/en/mobile/ English 8 of 10 or 1 of 10? The ratings are "bit different" :)

About marketing quality: I've read that there is not enought wow-factor, agree, but I thought this is enought for starting of A/B tests. If I am thinking wrong, please tell why?

>>It's been edited, I think, since the first time I read it (though I'm not sure).
No, the page is the same. I didnt edit it yet.
Roman Rudnik Send private email
Friday, April 12, 2013
Yes ,this Scorpio directly killed here with 1 out of 10 assessment ...
I'm not native speaker but I don't see any serious errors...
And Andy Brice (who is British I believe) and Racky who knows what he is talking about gave it 'not bad+' grade

Scorpio? Can you enlighten us?
alexandar Send private email
Friday, April 12, 2013
I'm an English speaker (UK). I'd give it 7/10. It's fairly obvious it wasn't written by a native english speaker but is easy to understand.

But... I wouldn't underestimate how important good english is to native english speakers. For many people ESL in marketing smells like a scam - presumably because we're so used to seeing spam etc. written like this. Whether that's fair or not is another argument.
Jonathan Matthews Send private email
Friday, April 12, 2013
I stand by my assessment, as it is obviously poor and we do nobody any favours by pretending otherwise, especially as the whole point of this thread is to ask for feedback.

There are numerous usage errors and inconsistencies of language form which make it look poor to me. This is only my personal opinion and I certainly wouldn't expect anyone else to agree with me.

To me, giving it seven or eight out of ten sends the wrong message, as I wouldn't want the O/P to mistakenly think that it was "good enough", when it has issues that are easily fixed.

For context, my daughter just turned nine and if she presented this to me as homework, I'd tell her to do it again. If your "English" can't beat a young child's writing, you probably need to think again.

As always, IMHO, YMMV, etc.
Scorpio Send private email
Friday, April 12, 2013
Scorpio's 1 out of 10 is saying, "it can't be any worse".  There is no number on that scale lower than 1. 

But pages like the one I gave (Engrish.com) and some of the student writing I have had to see without any doubt prove that the copy on that page *certainly* could be worse, in fact far worse.  Compare your page's copy:

"We are better than a freelance designer, because we can undertake and complete integrated projects and we have a team of highly qualified professionals that carry out different kinds of work all at the same time."

vs. what you see on Engrish.com...this is a sign warning of a small object choking hazard for children:

"Please warn the protector in being in danger of the suffocation being serious by drinking by mistake when small child can enter the entrance enough to handle it."

Or this, about a fire escape door malfunction:

"Close Fire escape door lift the hair of the page condominium.  Due. The company's.  Please note that. The company's. Made fire escape door lift the front of the coat. And can not open it. Since remedial safety and protected outsiders through - out."

Those are 1 out of 10s.  And actually they have no spelling errors;  that's a whole 'nother ball of wax.

So, no, not 1 out of 10.  But yes, make it even better.
Racky Send private email
Friday, April 12, 2013
It's good for someone whose language isn't English but it's just not good enough to sell to native  English speakers.

It's 'all your base are belong to us' english and is a big hindrance to having your offering taken seriously in an english speaking market.

You need to forget about your 10 point scale, the scale you're interested in has 2 points and this is a 1.

Ideally you need a native english speaker who is fluent in Russian to do this for you.
Drummer Send private email
Friday, April 12, 2013
'1 out of 10' is accurate only if you're talking binary.
Dora Send private email
Friday, April 12, 2013
You make an interesting point in suggesting binary, as the English is either good enough or it is not. IMHO, it is not.

As for the http://www.engrish.com/ website that Racky mentions, that reminds me of a lot of shop signs in certain areas of London where non-native people spell the names of their business so badly. For example, there is "UK Imports" spelt "Ukay Imports", etc.
Scorpio Send private email
Saturday, April 13, 2013
Racky: "Those are 1 out of 10s.  And actually they have no spelling errors;  that's a whole 'nother ball of wax."

And quite a big one.  Back in 2002, I was in China on a co-op job at a university that was teaching the same computing diploma program that I was taking back home.  Some of the students there were going to be going to my alma mater to take the baccalaureate degree that the program ladders into.  I saw some paperwork in preparation for this of one student.  The one page form had misspellings in the *form* text.  "u"s and "n"s were confused, and "birth" was spelled both that way and "brith".

Mind you, I know little Chinese so I am not smug.


Gene Wirchenko
Gene Wirchenko Send private email
Monday, April 15, 2013

This topic is archived. No further replies will be accepted.

Other recent topics Other recent topics
Powered by FogBugz