Long words, sophisticated terminology, and complex ideas make you seem smart, right? Maybe, but if you’re speaking a language no one can understand, what’s the point? Your job isn’t to make the user think, it’s to make them buy. If they don’t understand what you’re offering, they aren’t going to buy it. So, it’s your choice. Would you rather sound smart or make sales? Here is a list of things to keep in mind when writing on your website:
People with different reading levels will be visiting your website. The graph below shows that the average American adult reads at an eighth grade reading level. This means that if your website is above an eighth grade reading level, you will not be connecting with half of the adult United States population.
Let’s use the word ‘efficacious’ as an example. This a decently complex word that some users may know, but why not replace ‘efficacious’ with the word ‘effective’? They mean the same thing, but using the more simple word will make your content easier to read and more engaging for the general population.
Acronyms may be useful for writers, but they are confusing for readers. Acronyms exclude those with little knowledge on the subject and leave people guessing. Even if the reader is skilled in that area, acronyms can have double meanings. For example, CSS. It could mean cascading style sheets, customer support system, computer support specialist, and so on. As a rule of thumb, be sure to define every acronym the first time it is used on every page because any page can be a landing page.
You will never hear anyone say, “Wow, I wish I had to focus more while reading that.” Complex ideas are not fun for anyone to read. Make your ideas simple. This will help users retain and comprehend more of your information.
Simple does not mean dumbing down your information, but rather writing in a way that makes your information easy to digest. Act like you are a mathematician seeking the shortest formula for a complex discovery. However, simplicity can be harder to accomplish than complexity. You understand what you are trying to say, the difficult part comes when you want others the understand what you are saying. As Albert Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it to a 6-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.”
Going simple does not mean you must take out words that are over six letters long. There will be words that are essential for conveying your message. Use a hover tool or tool tip to allow users to see an instant explanation of any complicated language.
The Internet is a competitive market, so you cannot give users an excuse to leave. If users are confused, they will not continue their exploration of your page. They will leave. Again, your job is not to make users think, it is to make them buy. Use to Discida to get feedback from real customers and suggestions from knowledgeable, experienced professionals.
Danielle Heiken contributed to this article