The Harmful Effects of Misleading Website Visitors and How to Avoid
While not always intentional, misleading information can have significant consequences. Even something as seemingly innocent as a joke could result in injury and death, which is why it is essential to always provide clear information.
The innate problem with misleading statements is that they’re not always apparent. A personal or business website may state something that website visitors find confusing, understand incorrectly, or mistakenly replicate under the idea that the statement was correct.
Let’s examine the problem with misleading and deceptive advertisements as they pertain to businesses and personal websites.
Understanding Misleading Statements by Example
The dangers of misleading content are plentiful. There are instances where one small statement can lead individuals into perilous situations that they would otherwise avoid.
The New Zealand embassy in Canberra has undergone such a situation. They published a statement on their website that suggested all people in New Zealand had “comprehensive insurance” that covered any injuries they may acquire while in New Zealand (read more on Carter Capner Blog here).
The problem is that this statement is only true while people remain in New Zealand.
The accountability laws in New Zealand do not require the person whom caused an accident to pay any sort of legal fees. Hospital care and recovery is provided to individuals so long as they reside within the physical boundaries of New Zealand.
Once they leave New Zealand, those benefits stop. This type of misleading statement can result in a visitor traveling to New Zealand, getting injured, and then having to choose between staying within New Zealand for treatment or going home.
There are several cases where a lawyer has been hired to fight for a client’s right to compensation regarding the lack of injury compensation information before entering New Zealand. The misleading information posted on this website acts to hide the whole truth by offering only the pleasant part of it.
How Prevalent Are Misleading Statements?
Misleading statements on website are relatively common. While the majority tend to be fairly harmless, situations like the one listed above are fairly common.
It is understandable that mistakes can be made when it comes to posting confusing content or creating misleading advertisements. The best thing that can be done in these situations is to post a correction, to remove the misleading information, or to explain in detail the meaning of any confusing words.
If a business or person does this in good faith, then they are acting in their best interest while taking the interest of other people in mind.
How Can Misleading Information Be Corrected?
While it may be next to impossible to eliminate all confusion that exists, there are several ways to correct misleading information.
Below are some tips that can help you reduce the confusion visitors experience when they interact with your website:
- Be open to feedback from your visitors. – Your visitors are an essential part of your website, regardless of if your website is for a business or personal use. By listening to them, you can find misleading information before too many people are affected by it.
- Look for confusing information before publishing content. – Prevention is the best step when it comes to misleading information. Try to catch confusing statements before you published them. If a statement could be confusing, offering clarification on the page.
- Correct the information. – The simplest method of resolving a confusing statement is to correct the information on the page. Be sure to leave a notification that the content has been corrected, as this tends to be viewed in a positive light by your visitors.
- Remove the misleading content while stating it has been removed. – By removing confusing information or halting misleading advertising campaigns, you can negate the problems deceptive content can bring. Ensure that you publish information that the offending content has been removed, as visitors may view your motives as shady if you do not.
About Sarah Smith
Sarah is a blogger, marketer and creative in general at Inspired Web and is currently learning about marketing, using the internet. Aside from working on her own business, she likes to use social media, and read travel books.