DubBot software checks for text Readability - how easy the written content is to read and comprehend.

Why Readability is important

  • It makes a good impression - A website that is easy to understand and navigate will keep a visitor interested.

  • It gets your message across - Make sure visitors leave the website with the information that they were intended to receive.

  • It keeps their attention - Visitors get distracted easily - anything that takes more than a second to understand is too long and they will move on - don’t give the competition a leg up!

  • It’s good for SEO - As search algorithms improve on their capabilities, readability is starting to have more of an effect on the rankings.

What to consider

  • Is it easy to understand?

    1. Is it possible that certain parts of the website’s content are hard to understand and require a visitor to reread several times before comprehending?

  • Legibility

    1. Is the font type one where it is easy to distinguish the letters? (For example, some handwritten typed fonts are hard to read)

    2. Are the letters spaced out enough so they are clear?

    3. Is it easy to mistake emphatic text for a link?

      • Note: Make sure the styles used for emphasis are not the same styles used to indicate the presence of a link.

  • Any cognitive disabilities audience members may have

    1. Oftentimes this gets overlooked in regards to the types of disabilities that need accommodation on the web.

    2. Consider that certain phrases or sentences can be harder to understand for those with cognitive disabilities.

  • The age and education level of the audience

    1. For AAA compliance, if the text is not at a lower secondary education level (somewhere between grades 5-8), then supplemental content (such as descriptions) or an alternate version of the text will be necessary*

    2. The readability tests used in DubBot (and listed below) help you verify that your text is at the appropriate level.

6 Popular Readability Tests DubBot uses:

  1. Flesch Reading Ease Score

    • The formula in this test focuses on the number of words in sentences and the number of syllables in those words.

    • A high score indicates that a web visitor would need a higher reading level to comprehend the content. The scale is 0 to 100. A score of 50-60 is equivalent to 12th grade reading level.

    • Fun fact: There is a paragraph of Moby Dick that scores -146.77 when measured by this test.

  2. Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level

    • The formula in this test focuses on the number of words in sentences and the number of syllables in those words.

    • A low score indicates that a web visitor would need a higher reading level to comprehend the content.The scale is from -3.4 to 16. A score of 12 is equivalent to 12th grade reading level.

  3. Automated Readability Index (ARI)

    • The formula in this test focuses on the number of words in sentences and the number of characters in those words.

    • A high score indicates that a web visitor would need a higher reading level to comprehend the content. The scale is from 1 to 16. A score of 12 is equivalent to 12th grade reading level.

  4. Coleman-Liau Index

    • The formula in this test focuses on the number of sentences per 100 words and the number of characters per 100 words.

    • A high score indicates that a web visitor would need a higher reading level to comprehend the content. The typical scale is from 1 to 16. A score of 12 is equivalent to 12th grade reading level.

  5. Gunning Fog Index

    • The formula in this test focuses on the number of words in a sentence, and the number of complex words.

    • A high score indicates that a web visitor would need a higher reading level to comprehend the content. The typical scale is from 6-17. A score of 12 is equivalent to 12th grade reading level.

  6. SMOG grade

    • The formula in this test focuses on the first 10 sentences, middle 10 sentences, and last 10 sentences of content.

    • A high score indicates that a web visitor would need a higher reading level to comprehend the content. The typical scale is from 1-16. A score of 12 is equivalent to 12th grade reading level.

Note: For all tests, with the exception of the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level test, a higher score is preferable.

Which test is best?

Though each test has a different formula to reach its final calculation, they generally agree, as you will see on your pages in DubBot. However there may be certain types of tests that would be better at measuring your content if you have a specific audience or subject.

  • The Flesch Reading Ease Score & Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level are similar

    • A best practice, the Flesch Reading Ease Score has been incorporated into law in several countries and US states as a reliable measurement. The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level is a similar but modified version of the Flesch Reading Ease Score.

    • Best suggested uses: General use - any and all disciplines (including but not exclusive to: Marketing, Government, Education)

  • Automated Readability Index (ARI) and Coleman-Liau Index are similar

    • Developed for the US Air Force Medical Division to improve readability of technical manuals.

    • Best suggested uses: Technical writing

  • Gunning Fog Index

    • Developed for writers and businessmen to promote clear concise language.

    • Best suggested uses: Research papers, articles, and journals; When a concept needs to be explained clearly and simply

  • SMOG grade

    • Created using manual sampling data

    • Best suggested uses: Consumer oriented Health information

    • Not suggested for: Short text

Interpreting and Applying the scores

  • When testing your content, be sure to remove proper names and titles, as these do not account against you with regards to accessibility, but may result in a higher score via the Readability test tools.

  • When you need to improve your score:

    • Divide and conquer - shorten paragraphs by creating more of them.

    • Use headings (and subheadings) to clearly define sections - keep the content in those sections relevant to the heading. A visitor can scan the headings quickly to find the content they need.

    • Take another look at styles - Font size, scalability, Font families, letter spacing, line height, paragraph spacing, etc. Make sure the content is to see and read.

    • Use a less formal and more conversational voice - Conversational tone keeps visitors engaged. Save the formal tone for parts of content that really require it.

    • Read it out loud - If it is hard to say out loud, it is probably not easy for visitors to comprehend.

    • Test and Test again - consider using focus groups to see how visitors respond to your content and listen to their suggestions.

Resources:

More Frequently Asked Questions

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