If you've read "The Tipping Point" by Malcolm Gladwell, or "Broken Windows Broken Business" by Michael Levine, you've heard about the "broken windows" theory of social behavior. John Moore of Brand Autopsy riffs on both in a recent post (and saves readers' time by summarizing the latter book in about one paragraph.) Moore cites Gladwell's book about this theory:
Broken Windows was the brainchild of the criminologists James Q. Wilson and George Kelling. Wilson and Kelling argued that crime is the inevitable result of disorder. If a window is broken and left unrepaired, people walking by will conclude that no one cares and no one is in charge. Soon, more windows will be broken, and the sense of anarchy will spread from the building to the street on which it faces, sending a signal that anything goes.
According to Moore, "Levine's premise is that a broken window in business happens when someone isn't paying attention to details" and that "broken windows are telltale signs to customers that a business doesn't care, that it is poorly managed, and or it has become
too big and arrogant to adequately deal with little details." Lots of examples from retail businesses of all kinds.
To me, another instance of broken windows is a website with typos and grammatical mistakes. Now, mistakes on a blog are one thing. It's the nature of blogging to be fast and looser with grammar. I'm a lot less critical of mistakes on a blog (including my own) than on a website.
But when I come across a site with typos and mistakes, I immediately wonder how the site owner is going to handle any type of information transaction, whether that owner is a company, a consultant, or a media outlet. Credibility is immediately diminished. I ran across a major business information company's site the other day and was surprised to find so many dumb typos. Who's in charge here? Contrast that to a site like Sean D'Souza's psychotactics.com. Clean, professional looking, no mistakes, even going so far as to invite readers to point out mistakes or anything that makes it difficult for the reader. IMO, with all the competition for attention out there, why not give yourself every advantage you can? Even a modest little site can be inviting if its owner pays attention to the details.