Why Your Visitors Readability Score Is Important (and how to measure it)

Readability is the key when you start writing for your website; the rules have changed, as you are now writing for the public. One thing you should know about the public is that the average reading ability is low and you need to be able to reach as wide an audience as possible.

Other factors can influence the readability of your text, is that your web browsing public are often in noisy offices or cafes. They can also be reading on a small screen, such as a mobile phone. You obviously cannot influence these; however, you can change your writing style to aid them understanding your point.

Flesch reading ease

Rudolph Flesch, an author, and a supporter of the Plain English Movement first developed this formula in 1948 and is has now become a popular way of checking all kinds of documents, as well as giving guidelines for writers.

When writing your web piece in MSWord, you will find the settings tool for this in ‘Word Options/Proofing and tick ‘show readability tests’. If you are using WordPress, then there is also a Plugin for this.

On the Flesch reading ease test, you should try to write to a reading ease of around 60-70 or higher which is considered “Plain English, Easily understood by 13- to 15-year-old students”. See table below.
You can make your text easier to understand by using shorter sentences and words with fewer syllables. ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ by Dr. Seuss is an example of very high readability score.

Flesch-Kincaid grade level

J Peter Kincaid and his team originally developed this as a means of assessing technical documents for the US Navy, and it is now the accepted as a way of scoring text for reading grade level. The Grade uses. The score is the Grade level at which the reader will have attained. For the benefit of those of you not familiar with the ages of grade levels in the US there is a table below

Passive Sentences

Passive sentences are a bit of a sore spot for writers, most feel that they should not really exist within text. However, we use them in everyday language.
A passive sentence:  The rubbish needs to be taken out.
This should say:  You need to take the rubbish out.
Passive sentences contain passive verbs, in which the subject receives the action.  When the subject performs the verb, it is an active verb. You should try to write less than 5% of your text in passive sentences. This will make your text livelier and more to the point.

The Age Of Your Reader

According to Alex from marketing agency AMA “When considering the readability score think of the average visitor to your site. To determine the type of language they are likely to resonate with, think in terms of the kind of newspaper they would read. Would it be a broadsheet newspaper or tabloid newspaper?Do you need to the sentence structure simple or non-technical or would they prefer data and statistics? Resonating with your customer is vital to keeping them on your site longer.”

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