Readability is all about creating user-friendly content.
When your content is readable, it’s easier to consume. If usability and UX is important, then readability should be a top priority. User-friendly content might even improve your search rankings.
Readability is governed by two components.
- Writing in a concise, straightforward way helps users consume your content faster.
- Using simple words will make it easier to understand what you’re saying.
- Avoiding the passive voice and long sentences makes your writing uncomplicated to follow along with.
- Proof-reading your work and addressing grammatical/spelling errors ensure you’re able to convey your message accurately.
Some writing devices that can help fine-tune content readability:
- Use bullet-points to make lists easier to read.
- Highlight important words and phrases by bolding/italicizing them to help readers find key information quickly.
- Split up long articles with section headings.
Typography influences your content’s readability. Typography can dictate how comfortable and efficient the reading experience will be.
Typography can even shape how readers interpret your message.
Text color, font size, kerning, line length, and line height. These are some typography-related factors that have an effect on reading comfort and speed.
Readability is the foundation of a solid content strategy. Below are some tools that will help you test and improve your website’s readability.
Tools for Improving Readability
The Readability Test Tool
This online tool will check your writing under well-established readability formulas. E.g., the Flesch Kincaid Reading Ease and the Automated Readability Index. The Readability Test Tool also furnishes statistics about your text. It shows you the number of complex words and average number of words per sentence in your work. Try to lower these two metrics when you’re editing for readability.
Poor grammar and spelling errors make content hard to read. It might even lead to incorrect interpretations of your work. Also, improper grammar/spelling can distract your readers. Grammark can help find grammar and spelling issues in your piece. It will also point out wordiness, vague language, and other problem areas. Grammark is open source.
This online editor helps you write clearly and concisely. Short and sweet, and to the point. The tool highlights complex sentences and phrases, the use of passive voice, and adverbs (which I’ve used in this paragraph — please forgive me). These things aren’t technically aren’t wrong. But if you avoid them, your writing will become clearer. As you’re writing, Hemingway Editor gives you a dynamic readability grade. It also displays information such the estimated reading time of your article. Try to decrease the reading time without taking away from your message.
(By the way, I wrote this article in Hemingway Editor.)
Readability | The Writer
This is another readability checker for seeing how easy it is to read your content. It rates the readability of your work based on the Gunning Fog score and the SMOG index. Compare your scores to popular literary works like Harry Potter using their table index.
Design is a big part of readability and text legibility. A good foreground/background color contrast ratio is key to reading comfort. This is an open source tool for calculating the contrast ratio of two colors. It can help you choose good colors for a pleasant reading experience.
This app is another top-notch grammar checker. What makes this tool special is its intuitive and well-thought-out interface. The tool’s UI makes the act of proof-reading and editing more pleasant. But, unlike other readability tools, Grammarly requires its users to create an account first.
This is yet another good readability testing tool. It will check your work without having to click on a "submit" button. And when you update your text, it will recalculate your readability scores on-the-fly. This testing tool has a Pay-What-You-Want premium service that gives you more features. Premium membership gives you access to "Alerts", for example. The "Alerts" feature monitors your website’s readability. Also, the premium membership allows you to upload files–Word documents, PDFs, and so forth.
- Beyond Words: Writing for ReadabilityMedium
- Color Contrast for Better ReadabilityViget
- Readability: the Optimal Line LengthBaymard Institute
- Designing For The Reading ExperienceSmashing Magazine