Is Your Website Smarter than a 12-year Old?

Is Your Website Smarter than a 12-year Old?

How important is it to consider the reading level of your content when blogging or editing your website? Well, if you want to gain loyal readers, it could be one of the most important things about your blog. Great content and relative brevity are major factors for a reader-friendly blog. Readability, or reading difficulty level, plays into both of these aspects.

The average reading level of most publications and websites is less than you might think. The prestigious Wall Street Journal is written at a high school junior reading level. Presidential speeches are written at an 8th grade level. Nearly all of today’s top novels are written at just a 7th grade level. Keeping that in mind, understanding your audience and tailoring your content to that audience (whether it be above or below the average level) could make a huge difference in readers choosing to read your content or scoping out the photos and moving on.

Just for fun, here's a small chart of some popular reading material and their relative reading levels:

readability chart

No reader left behind?

Does this mean that the general population is less literate that our years of education would indicate? Not necessarily. In general, articles are dumbed down below the mean readability level of their audience for two reasons; accessibility and usability.

Website accessibility typically pertains to coding content so that it is accurately portrayed to people who are differently abled; typically visual impairments. The typical examples are adding alt tags to describe images or avoiding color combinations that are difficult to differentiate by those who are color blind. Making content more readable is another form of making your site accessible while attracting a wider audience.

The goal of usability is to make a site as simple as possible while fulfilling its function. From the user perspective, “don’t make me think." Typically, we think of usability regarding navigation, functional features, and helpers. Yet, copy also is a part of the usability equation. Most websites do make people think. They just should not have to think about syntax and semantics instead using their brain muscle to focus on concepts.

So how do you measure the readability of your blog?

There are roughly five readability tests you can use; the most well-known of these being the Flesch-Kincaid readability test. Each uses an algorithm for calculating a level of difficulty by counting words and syllables. These difficulty levels have been normalized to translate into grade levels.

Lucky for you, LevelTen's own Tom McCracken has created a Drupal module including all of these readability tests. In the demo below, Tom shows you how easy it is to utilize this module and begin targeting your readers by adjusting your content.

Stay tuned to the LevelTen Drupal Labs YouTube Channel for more demos and tutorials. In the mean time, help us help you by leaving your feedback and suggestions to improve this module. We'd love to hear how it's worked (or not) for you.

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