If you want your website content to be read and understood by the general public, you should use simple words and short sentences.
Think about writing at the level a 13 year old could be expected to read easily.
Isn’t this ‘Dumbing Down’?
When you write web content, you write to communicate a message. If the people you need to reach don’t get that message, then you’ve wasted your time.
Force less fluent readers to struggle, and there’s little chance they will read to the end. Make those with a higher level of education work harder than they need, and you risk losing them too.
On the web, people are in a hurry. Why should they spend time poring over your web content when they could find something easier to read within a click or two?
Keep it Simple
We grow up learning simple words first. These words continue to make the most immediate impact, even once we’ve discovered more complicated words. If you saw someone about to walk into the road in front of a bus, would you shout ‘stop’ or ‘desist’?
So why, when it comes to web content – and business writing in general – are people tempted to use words that they wouldn’t ever say when talking?
More Than a Million Words
Experts estimate that there are more than a million words in the English language. That’s significantly more than in any other European language, and possibly more than in any other language in the world. Perhaps it’s no wonder that we sometimes struggle to choose the word that will best get our meaning across.
Multiple Words for Each Idea
Do you start, begin or commence a project? Does your email need an answer or require a response? Do you look for, search for, or seek? At school, we’re taught to show off our vocabulary in our writing. But what do you think when you read website content that tells you a business utilises an optimum methodology? Would you be more likely to read on if they were explaining that they use the best methods?
Write to Communicate, Not to Impress
You want your website content to connect with readers and convey your message. Online or in print, your readers want information that’s quick to read, easy to understand and written by a human being. They really don’t care about the size of your vocabulary – and they might not even understand you.
Choose the simplest word that says what you mean, and your web content will be stronger and more convincing – and you’ll be far more likely to get the results you want for your business. Many thanks goes to Beverley Moore at the Writing Point for providing this article.