Readability On Your Website

Statistics from the National Literacy Trust suggest that 15% of UK adults have the literacy level of an 11-year-old. On the Flesch-Kincaid Reading score, this corresponds to a score of 6. If someone with this reading level came onto your website, would they be able to understand what you do?

If your emails are in good shape readability-wise, but your website is not, you will see a strong Click-Through-Rate, but no subsequent flow of warm leads. This is peak “vanity metric” and may well lead to your marketing team tearing their hair out, unable to explain why your MQL pipeline has dried up.

So what should you do?

It’s important to consider exactly what the function of your website is in the overall lead generation funnel. The simplest way to think of it is like the inside of a shop. Your emails are the window displays, tempting people inside. Your whitepapers and in-depth guides are the eye-catching packaging which contains your product. This leaves your website as the shop floor, laid out and signposted to help people reach the content they really want. If the layout is confusing, people will leave without reading or downloading anything. So, your aim is an open format which can be scanned and understood quickly. One way to get a sense of how readable your website is already is called a Cloze Test: you remove every fifth or sixth word from a paragraph, then ask people to fill in the blanks. 60% is considered a pass mark.

Ways to manage your readability

Once you have a sense of your current readability level, there are several techniques you can use to improve. Simple changes like breaking up large blocks of text into smaller sections, or adding bullet points, can quickly move your readability scores in the right direction.

The best way to signpost your content is to lead with the point you want to make, then expand on it further down. I was told by a university lecturer to “Say what you’re going to say, say it, then say what you’ve said” when writing essays. In other words, your main point should be in the first few sentences, where it can capture attention, rather than making the reader wait to discover it. There’s nothing worse than wading through a whole article, only to find out that the conclusion is irrelevant to you!

Beyond the text

Readability covers more than just the words that you use, design elements also have an impact. Choose text colours that contrast strongly with the page background and try to pick images which relate closely to the topic you are writing about.

We’ve talked before about the F in email marketing, and the same principle applies to websites. So position your best and most popular content accordingly, so that people find it easily. While the length of a website visit remains a popular metric, what a contact accomplishes in that time is far more important. If they spend 10 minutes clicking around your website, unable to find what they are looking for, is that really more valuable than someone who is on your site for 6 minutes, but downloads 3 guides and reads 2 blogs in depth?

What are you waiting for?

We’ve talked here about the universal rules for great readability, but every industry and every audience will have its own unique features which you need to take into account. Book a demo of our readability tool today and start getting into the specifics of your marketing lists.


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