User testing for style and content 


The first step to writing well is understanding your users and how they read 

Susan Bell Research offers a unique user testing method for written content based on the psychology of language, and inspired by the Jobs to be Done philosophy.

I am a professional researcher, linguist and written communications testing specialist.  I designed our User Testing for Style and Content to show organisations how customers experience their content, from three perspectives:

  1. Customer experience. How do you users feel after reading your content?  Were they engaged? Empowered? Did they feel empathy, or were they left feeling cold, with no idea what to do next?
  2. Compliance.  What did your users read and what they understand? And really importantly what did they misunderstand or guess?
  3. Consistent brand voice.  Does yur written content speak in your the same 'voice of your brand' as your other communications?  


We specialise in user testing of information about products such as investment and processes such as applying for insurance that are difficult to explain without resorting to jargon. Our service also helps organisations write about complex ideas - like How to Write a Will.


Duty of Reasonable Care - a unique research offer

We can give you the best chance to meet your Duty of Reasonable Care obligations that will apply to financial services firms from October 2021. 

Do as our other clients have done - test your application forms to make sure that your customers have understood them.  

As you know, financial services firms have a duty to ensure that consumers do not make inadvertent errors when buying financial services products.

Susan Bell Research has a unique Duty of Reasonable Care user testing method that helps you understand how customers read and understand your content.  The test will show you:

  • What questions users ask when they interact with your content
  • What puzzles them and what they simply don't understand
  • What they guess at when answering your questions
  • What they don't even read.

This is what one client told us:

"This has given us the best chance we have to give our customers a good  customer experience. The business also benefits because it helped us simplify the process as much as possible and it meets legislative requirements."

You need to commission this research in March or April 2021 to be ready in time.

We will test your Online Form (or other relevant material) using our User Testing for Style and Content -   a unique language-based user testing method for CX, Compliance and Brand Voice.

We will custom design the research for you. The cost will depend on sample size and specifications.

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We are independent

Interviewing someone about their level of understanding is a very different thing from conducting a standard user interview.

Some organisations do their own testing. Some testing is better than none. However, the benefits of using an independent researcher for information resources are:

  • It's obvious - independence. People who test their own material sometimes hear what they want to hear. Independent researchers hear everything.
  • The second reason is interviewing skill. Interviewing someone about their level of understanding is a very different thing from conducting a standard user interview. Interviewing someone who is confused and potentially embarrassed about being confused requires professional interviewing skills.  We are research experts who have studied conversation science, so we know what users mean when they 'think aloud'.
  • Standards. We are members of the Research Society. We abide by a Code of Professional Behaviour that mandates privacy protection for example.

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Our skills and resources

We bring skills in linguistics and plain language training to our user testing

Reading is central to almost all digital communication, especially for complex and technical products and services. Reading is actually a complex sensemaking skill. People vary in how skilled they are. Our usability testing is based on the psychology of reading - how people read - so we know how to ask the right questions to assess understanding.

We have studied conversation science, so we know how people talk about what they have read. We can therefore quickly determine when someone has misunderstood. People also vary in how they give information, especially how much they are willing to give. 

Our plain language training means that we know how to write complex information in plain language, so we can guide you.

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How to write clearly to users about complex products or ideas

Introducing language-based user testing 

One of the most difficult challenges that content writers face when writing about complex products is to write in a way that users understand. Will users understand the terminology? How can technical ideas be conveyed clearly without over-simplifying them?

Writing about complex products clearly is not an easy task, but it is an important one. Customers who cannot understand you or misunderstand your instructions will have a poor customer experience, leading to poor customer outcomes.

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For a quote or a confidential discussion about your research needs