We test documents with readers

We use our unique blend of linguistics knowledge, research expertise and skills in plain writing and information design to help organisations to test and re-write business, regulatory, compliance and technical documents and forms more clearly. 

Think of this as usability testing for written communications.

Use this service:

  • When you have a document or form that you know is complex, and want to learn how to make it usable by customers.
  • When you have a new document or form and need evidence about how it compares with a previous version
  • When you are writing something technical for a customer or user for the first time.

In Financial Services, the term ‘consumer testing’ means testing a document with members of its intended audience to determine whether the document is easy for them to read, use, and understand. 

Our research

Our research reveals

  • What the audience for the document or form understand and what they don't.
  • To aid rewriting we discover what the audience knows and doesn't know about the topic, how they conceptualises this topic, and what language they use. 

Be aware that people who test documents will often react emotionally. Consumer testing needs careful controls and procedures to ensure that testers are answering the questions we have asked, not a question they wish we had asked!

Writing to empower or persuade

Good writing is not just about clarity. Writers want readers to pay attention to and engage with the material.  This is how to do that:

  • Design for the eye
  • Make people curious
  • Write about them not you
  • Start with something easy
  • Use signs to show new information 

 

Susan Bell Research is an expert in this form of testing. Contact Sue to learn more.

Tags: Disclosure, Document Design, Plain language, Consumer testing, Compliance, Customer feedback, Usability testing for written communications

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