If you’ve ever had your computer give you a readability score or a grade level for something you’ve written, you’ve run a readability formula. Readability formulas are easy to use and give you a number. This combination makes them seductive. But a number isn’t useful if it isn’t reliable, valid, or helpful.
In this article, we’ll explain how readability formulas work and give you seven reasons why you shouldn’t use them. We’ll also show you better ways to learn whether the people you want to reach can find, understand, and use your content. Read More
As writers, it’s easy for us to think that whatever topic has held our interest throughout the stages of research, synthesis, and composition will also pull our readers through to the end of whatever we’ve written. But that’s not the case. Many who come to this article may not even reach the end of this sentence, as the article “How People Read Online: Why You Won’t Finish This Article” explains.
So how can writers reach people who don’t read? Through scannability. Read More
As UX professionals, we’re all familiar with the need to test user experience designs. Testing content, however, might be a different story. Most companies haven’t given testing content the attention it deserves—partly because it’s challenging. One challenge is that time and budget usually do not allow us to test every single piece of content. Another challenge is that gathering too much unfocused feedback can freeze our projects in analysis paralysis. To meet these challenges, try testing your content concepts—and start testing them early in your projects.
I have found surprisingly little advice about testing content that is integral to rather than supportive of the user experience. Also scarce is advice about testing content for more than usability. A good starting point for understanding the need to test content is a blog post by Ginny Redish, “Usability Testing: Be Sure to Test Content as Well as Navigation.” According to Redish:
“Too many usability tests focus only on finding information—not on how the information itself works for people.”—Ginny Redish
This column explains the value of testing content with real people and offers tips on evaluating content concepts. Read More