If you’re smart, you’ll know that "dumbing down" is a simple solution.
Why? Because the average adult reads at an eighth-grade level (by US stats).
And according to usability guru Jakob Nielsen, 30 percent of web users have a low level of literacy—with that number rising fast.
That means three out of 10 users will bounce if your words are too brainy.
So what sets low-literacy users apart?
For starters, they actually read content rather than merely scanning it. They have to, because they need time to make sense of wording.
They also skip large text blocks and hate scrolling even more than higher-literacy users. So they may miss important information that’s buried.
And they’re terrible at searching for information. So your site search better be Google quality to account for their mistakes.
Then how do you reach them?
- Keep it simple: Write your important pages at a sixth-grade reading level. And stick to short sentences and one idea per paragraph.
- Put important info up top: Don’t make readers scroll for your message.
- Use common words: Use as few syllables as possible, and lose the abbreviations and jargon.
- Be literal: Don’t try to be cute or funny. And no one likes puns.
- Make searching easy: Offer meaningful results—even for misspelled words.
- Test your text: Both Microsoft Word and Google Docs let you calculate Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level and Flesch Reading Ease.
Make it easier for everyone
Worried these tips will provoke laughter from the literate?
Well, studies show that even higher-literacy users benefit from simple writing on the web.
So if you want more readers, sounding "dumb" online really is the smartest way to go.
Want to reach even more readers on the web? Learn how to write compelling copy with our free 25-page e-book, Breakthrough Web Writing.