Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Improve and check your website's readability

Is the copy on your website or in your emails readable or incomprehensible to the average user? Well you can check the readability of your copy using Microsoft Word's readability tool.

This tool uses something called 'Flesch Reading Ease' that will tell you what age level your copy is aimed at.

I picked up this tip from a seminar on digital strategy given by Dotmailer at TFM&A.
  1. Copy and paste the copy you wish to check for readability into Microsoft Word - I’d suggest copying it to notepad to strip out all the formatting first, then into Word.
  2. Turn on ‘readability’ in Microsoft Word 2003 under Tools>Options>Spelling and Grammar tab>Show readability statistics check box
  3. Run spellcheck. At the end of the spellcheck you will have the following extra statistics (the following is the result for this post's copy):
Microsoft Word Readability Statistics
The higher the number (50.1 in my screenshot above) the easier to read. Anything lower than 30 means college graduate level and so may be putting off some users from reading and understanding your website. Wikipedia has more about ‘Flesch Reading Ease’ and what it means.

Related posts
20 email marketing tips (Nov 2007)
SEO problems of white text on a dark background (Jul 2008)
What font / text size online and how to set it in the CSS (Oct 2008)
Check your web design in different browsers online (Jun 2009)

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