There's the old saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” And “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.” But we do, right? It’s human nature to make a snap judgement when we are introduced to something or someone for the first time. Some people notice crooked teeth right away. On the flip side, others may notice how bright and white a person’s smile is. One of my favorite authors, Malcolm Gladwell, describes snap judgements in his book titled, Blink. He says that in our unconscious, we make lightning-fast decisions. We can look at something, and within seconds, have made initial opinions about something.
Amy Cuddy, a psychologist at Harvard Business School, has been studying first impressions for over 15 years. Cuddy’s research has found that our snap judgments serve the purpose of answering two questions. The first is “Can I trust this person?” And the second is “Can I respect this person’s capabilities?” She explains that first impressions are very hard to change.
My bachelor’s degree is in psychology, so I love applying these theories and principles. When I am searching for a new doctor, I first go by word-of-mouth. Once I have a few names, I look at their website. I want to see what they look like and see what they have to say. I even look at where they went to school. A few paragraphs (or even sentences) in, and I find a typo. And then another one. Eek! Put on the brakes! My confidence level in this doctor just dropped dramatically. The unfortunate thing is that the doctor is likely not the person that created the website, but it reflects poorly on him or her. Our brains make snap judgements within seconds. Seconds. And when you spot a typo on a professional website, their credibility immediately decreases.
There is a name for this. It’s called Face Validity. Does something appear (at face value) to do what it is supposed to do? Having face validity is strictly in the judgement of the reader. When you read a website that is supposed to promote the highly educated and skilled professional, and you find a typo, the validity goes down. You made a snap judgement. And as Amy Cuddy explained, it’s very hard to change first impressions.
Now, I’m not trying to single out doctors, by any means. We make these snap judgements all the time. And I’m sure you have seen typos on all sorts of things. The fact is that when we write something, it needs a second set of eyes. It is very difficult to catch our own mistakes.
So, while proofreading might not be important to some, it says a lot to the customer.
I'm Erin! I'm an MBA graduate with over 15 years of experience in HR, small business management, academia, and social media. I am an author, wife, mother, half marathon runner, and lover of the outdoors.