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Science-based message testing

We use science-based frameworks, plain language, and behavioural principles when testing content

Why science helps when testing content

Many organisations test their content and messaging before launching new campaigns. Many use internal teams or research agencies who do not specialise in this to do the testing. That is often an excellent idea when the content is straightforward and the test is a kind of ‘disaster check’.

However, using internal teams or non-specialists can create problems. The most common problem we see is what we call a jargon impasse. This is when one person or team wants to use technical terminology or highly formal language while others in the organisation do not.

Without the science to inform the testing, the teams can fall into dispute – and the argument can be won by the loudest voices, or the voice of the most senior person in the room.

The way to avoid those problems, is to outsource your testing to experienced agencies like us who can draw on deep knowledge of reading and language and proven testing frameworks.

The disciplines and frameworks we use are

The science of reading

Experiments conducted by cognitive scientists and neuroscientists have shown us that people read, skip, or skim content in ways that are broadly predictable.

For example, when we read we continuously predict what is ahead of us in the text, fine-tuning our predictions as we go, so a reader who anticipates that some text will not be useful to them right now, will skip that text. We know too that readers read fluently when they feel confident that they understand it. A series of technical terms can jeopardise that confidence, so the reader stops reading.

Plain language principles

The International Standard for Plain Language includes an invaluable framework to use when testing content. According to that framework, readers need to GET relevant information, FIND it, UNDERSTAND what they have found and USE what they have understood. Because we follow this framework in our testing, we do not just focus on wording. Much of the success in written communication is about where you put information not just how you write it.

Behavioural and gestalt psychology

Readers also use heuristics or rules of thumb when they read. Readers generally expect contact information to be at the start or the end of a letter for example. If you place that kind of information in a long middle paragraph, don’t be surprised if readers skip over it.

Gestalt psychology also helps us to understand that some of the assumptions that readers make arise because of where information is placed in the message.

We have used these frameworks when testing:

  1. Claim and complaint letters
  2. Superannuation statements
  3. Landing pages and email sequences
  4. Insurance PDSs
  5. Brochures and Guides
  6. and more!

Confidentiality and privacy

You can trust your content with us.

We are members of the Research Society and are therefore bound by the Code of Professional Behaviour that protects the privacy of your members and the confidentiality of your information. We are also accredited to the ISO 20252 standard for both qualitative and quantitative research and as such have strict data protection and information security protocols in place.

To find out more. contact Sue.

Susan Bell Founder & Lead Consultant
Sue Bell, Founder & Lead Consultant

We would love to hear from you, and are always happy to talk through research methods and options with you, if you are not sure what you need. Why not get in touch for a free, obligation-free, and confidential conversation.

Find out more about Susan Bell Research.

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