It’s all about readability. The simpler the writing the easier it is to read (or the more readable it is). A More readable site is easier to read at speed, which is how most websites get read. So given than you want a site that can be read easily and quickly, how can you measure the readability of what you’ve written?
One way is to look at the newspaper industry which uses readability indexes. One such index is the Ginning-Fog-Index, sometimes referred to as the Fog Factor. This uses a calculation based on a number of characteristics of the text including sentence length and number of syllables per word. The lower the Fog Factor, the easier it is to read the text.
As a guide the Fog Factors of the major UK newspapers are as follows:
- Times – 7.1
- Guardian – 7
- Independent – 8.9
- Daily Mail – 8.3
- The Sun – 6.9
How can you calculate the Fog Factor of your own writing? There are various online resources you can use.
One such service is http://juicystudio.com/services/readability.php where you enter the address of the web page that you want analyzing and the Fog Factor of the page is returned.
Mike’s Tips for Writing Readable Website Content
- Keep sentences short.
- Stick to simple words. Where you have a choice of an everyday word to describe something or a more complex word, stick to the everyday word.
- Keep paragraphs short. Long blocks of text are daunting to the reader.
- Bold the first sentence or phrase of each paragraph. This helps the reader to scan the page and gain an understanding before reading further.
- Make the layout attractive. Use larger font sizes for heading. Use bolding and colour to emphasize important words or concepts
- Forget what your English Language teacher told you at school You’re not trying to win a literary prize. You’re writing to be read quickly and easily understood.
I always start with the assumption that nobody is going to read what I write. Working from that base, I have to make what I write as attractive, readable and interesting as possible.
You can do it too. Give it a go.