Reading Ease: The Forgotten Consideration

Readability scores measure your site’s reading ease:

Knowing your audience is just as important online as it is anywhere else. When you’re working on your website, you tailor everything to a target audience: your colours, your photos, your content. You make certain choices to attract the ideal customer, based on your research—and on generalizations about what this person is like.

About that hypothetical customer of yours…Did you know that most people online read at an eighth-grade level? Does your site pass the reading ease test, or are you alienating potential clients?

Big words can lose you business.

Consider the following text:

AloeRoot Web Services strives to develop the ideal online presence to showcase your business’ best attributes. We help you in your outreach initiatives, enabling you to connect with clientele who are poised to purchase.

The above paragraph scores an average of 12.7 at–suggesting that you need post-secondary education to understand it. It may look impressive to you, but it could also be repelling your readers.

This text says basically the same thing as the first example:

AloeRoot Web Services builds excellent websites. We make your business look good, so you’ll attract the kind of customer you’re looking for.

With a readability score of 8.7, it’s far less likely to derail the casual surfer.

Aim for an eight!

When you’re creating copy for a website with a general audience, aim for a reading ease score of about 8; this represents an eighth-grade reading level–it will be much more accessible for the average person, and those who may not be fluent in English.

Bonus Tip: Skip the jargon.

Reading ease indicators are easy to find.It never hurts to be considerate of your customers. Of course, if you’re writing about subatomic particles, you’re going to use a very different level of language from somebody who wants to sell plumbing widgets.

Either way, remember that your reader doesn’t necessarily know all your industry terms. Before publishing, run your copy past someone who doesn’t know much about your field. Ask them to point out any acronyms, catchphrases, or concepts they don’t understand, and rephrase them in common terms.