Use plain language

Knowing your audience is very important. Understanding how they read and write is key when developing your website. Your website needs to speak the same “language”.  Use plain language to create web page content that your users are comfortable with.  For example, don’t create text for PhD candidates unless your website audience is PhD candidates.

Using plain language does not mean you have to dumb down your content so that all visitors can read and understand it.  Be concise.  Eliminate unnecessary words. Make every word fight for a position on your page.  Break text into chunks.  Use shorter paragraphs than writing for paper.

Clearly explain topics

Don’t assume visitors have knowledge of the subject.  Use effective headings with sub-headings to divide topics.  Help readers scan your text. They will stop and read text they find interesting. Don’t use complex words.  Limit the use of jargon, readers will skip over words they don’t understand.

Use writing tools

There are numerous tools available to help you write plain language.  Steve Krug’s book “Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited” is full of great web content writing advice. I write all my drafts with Microsoft Word and I use the spelling and grammar tool to ensure there are no errors. The Flesch Reading Ease and Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level tools to gauge the difficulty of my text. I use the Yoast SEO plugin for content analysis.  In addition to helping with search engine keywords, the plugin rates the readability of the text.

These two tools help me write better for my audience.  Try using plain language to help your audience understand your message.  Your message is a very important component of your website. If visitors to your website don’t understand what you are saying, then they will leave your website.

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