So what does this mean – What is readability?
Everyone, who’s even a bit familiar with content writing, has heard that it’s important to make a content readable.
But why exactly should you do so?
To a beginner writer this might not make much sense as in general the text that is called «readable» often looks very plain and simple – perhaps, too plain to be considered serious writing.
However, it the way it works – and in this article, we’re going to explain why.
What is readability?
Readability is the ease with which a reader can understand a written text.
Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? But what exactly defines this ease?
There’s no one answer.
The readability is defined by numbers of factors, including the formatting of the text, the choice of words, and knowledge of the readers’ attitude.
There are plenty of tools that analyze the readability of your texts – but are them enough to help you understand the main secrets and principles of making your texts readable?
Of course not.
In order to get the whole concept readability better, you need to start thinking like your audience does – and understand how they approach online reading in the first place.
Why is readability important?
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How many content pieces do you see everyday?
Not only blog posts, but short social media posts, articles, emails, and so on?
Probably, a lot. And sure, you could read all of them – but most likely this would leave you a little time for everything else, including your work and your personal life.
Moreover, the number of the content available to you only increases each day.
These days most people understand that they need an online presence to help their businesses succeed and that their audience could be drawn in and expanded with the help of high-quality content.
Therefore, they start investing in content creation and promotion, while you start seeing more and more pieces of content every day.
Knowing that it doesn’t seem surprising at all that people become more and more picky in choosing the content they want to read.
They also tend to quit reading quickly if a post or an article fails to catch their attention immediately and to hold it for a certain amount of time.
Due to the superfluity of the content available to read, people tend to approach online reading differently than when they do read books or printed texts.
The reading stats posted by Überflip shows that these days people pay less than 15 seconds of their attention to 55% of all page views.
Moreover, a 2008 study conducted by Jakob Nielsen shows that visitors only read about 20% of the text on the average page.
This makes it all a bit challenging, doesn’t it?
So we could sum this up to two things:
1) you need people to read your content to promote your business or brand;
2) people spend a little time on content reading and lose their attention quickly.
Knowing that, what could you do to make people stay on your website longer?
Improve the readability of your texts, of course.
And here’s how you could do so.
How to improve the readability of your texts
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The stats published above not only shows that people don’t spend much time on a page – it actually shows that people actually scan content instead of reading it.
So basically readability is all about making your texts easy to understand even if they are read quickly or scanned.
Here’s how can you achieve that:
1.Use simpler words.
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The 2013 research published by HuffingtonPost shows that the US illiteracy rate didn’t improve over last 10 years – so most likely we shouldn’t expect it to change anytime soon.
Therefore, we need to keep in mind sad statistics – the «average» American reads at a 7th or 8th-grade level.
That’s why it’s so important to use pick simpler words for your content – this way you ensure that anyone will understand it.
And even if you’re writing for an audience that is usually considered to be more literate, it’s still important to keep it simple.
Because your readers will most likely still scan your content and the main idea of scanning is being able to understand everything even then – which could be hard to achieve if the words are too complex.
Simplify your style as well.
Did you know that usage of passive voice, long sentences, and long paragraphs could affect the readability too?
Well, now you know.
Your content might be simple by its nature, but if it’s written in big chunks of text, it would be harder for readers to proceed and understand.
Therefore, do your best to make not only words but your style simple as well.
Make your content precise.
Remember that we’ve mentioned that people lose their attention (along with their interest) quickly these days?
That’s why the easiest way to make readers stop reading your content is make it too long, unclear, or boring.
So this makes clear What is readability? And what is not.
You can’t always be sure that you’ll be able to keep the readers on the hook until the very end.
With this in mind, it’s always better to be as specific and up to the point as you can.
Your audience wants to benefit from your content in some way.
So do your best to ensure that they’ll get what they came for.
Make a content more scannable.
There’s more than one reason to do so. Besides people prefer to scan content these days, they also often surf the web from their mobile devices.
Therefore, it’s important to structure the information so readers can get all the main points whether read on a laptop or smartphone.
You can achieve this easily by using subheadings that clearly identify what the readers will get from reading the next part of the text.
Using lists in your content is a great idea too.
They are the great way to structure certain information and are absorbed better than if written in a line.
As you see, making your content more readable is easier than you might have thought.
Do you personally think that readability is important?
And which tools and tricks you use to make your content easier to read?
Please share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!
How does this article help you understand – What is readability?
BIO: Lori Wade is a content writer for sigmaessays who is interested in a wide range of spheres from education and online marketing to entrepreneurship. She is also an aspiring tutor striving to bring education to another level like we all do. If you are interested in writing, you can find her on Twitter or Google+ or find her on other social media. Read and take over Lori’s useful insights!