Is Your Site Readable?

I was praised throughout school for being able to write at an advanced level. I took a great deal of pride in that fact. I still do, actually.

When I started preparing training materials and teaching guides to go out to people I would never have contact with, I knew I had to start dialing back on my writing. Simpler sentence structure. Less complex vocabulary choices. I was going to have to make my writing accessible to the average person.

LifeHacker recently offered a link to an online readability test. You give it a URL, and it gives you the readability score from three major readability tests.

Naturally, I ran a number of my sites through it. I ran blogs, stories, anything I could think of through it. It turns out that I have attained my goal of writing at an accessible level. The average person can, indeed, read any of my work and walk away understanding it. This warms my heart. What killed me, though, was realizing that my once very advanced writing style has become a low-level writing style.

I’m having to remind myself constantly that this is a good thing, and it’s not how I would write if I were writing something that didn’t need to be widely readable. I have to remind myself that writing on a more conversational level is what helps my students, my readers, and my editors understand me. This is a good thing, and I should see it as an accomplishment instead of as a setback.


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