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.
I am an experienced researcher and linguist
I have developed a testing service specifically to test the style and tone of technical and complex information intended for customers and the general public. It is based on the psychology of language.
It helps organisations know the language they can use to convey complex or unfamiliar ideas to their users, while staying technical when needed. This means;
- The terms and expressions users understand and or don't understand; and
- How to engage your users in technical content and what makes them disengage (hint- sometimes it is language and sometimes it is layout)
There are two ways to write about complex products
The first is to use your 'work voice' when writing to customers. When you write in your work voice you use technical words, abbreviations, long words, and complex sentences; OR
You can write in the voice of your users. Some of the technical words will still be there because they have to be, but others will have gone to be replaced by words that your users understand, in sentences that they can read.
Obviously, we recommend the second of these - as we did for a large insurer, who said:
"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."
Is this for you?
The answer is yes, if
You need to explain technical or unfamiliar information to the general public
You need to convey ideas or information to a market that a user group that is very unfamiliar to you
- You need to meet compliance or legal requirements