Reducing the reading age for our website

Following on from James Mathewson’s  presentation at Content Strategy 17, we’ve been reflecting on Cherryleaf’s main website, and the improvements we could make to it. One thing we have started to do is reduce the reading age for the content. Reading age measures are also, in effect, readability measures. So any improvements also benefit people with a high reading age.

There are a number of factors that affect the readability of a page.

One is using the active voice. In our case, there were only a few sentences using the passive voice that we needed to change.

Another is to reduce the sentence length. We found we had many long sentences. We’ve split those into two, shorter, sentences.

We’re still being marked down in the readability scores for using “difficult words”. This is harder to fix, as we need to describe technical subjects. We also don’t use many transition words in sentences. This is probably a symptom of writing short Help topics, where transitions are less common.

We’ve also updated the look and feel for the main site (and for this blog), and we made some changes in order to reduce the number of clicks needed to get to information. This is a work in progress. We hope you find the site easier to use.

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