The 3 things to consider when testing written content

Content testing is one of our most popular services. We test lots of written communications from landing Pages, Letters, Fact Sheets to Usage Instructions and Packaging Labels, digital and in print.

Key advice that we give our clients is that not all content is the same, so it’s important to design the test for a specific piece of content. Cookie cutter approaches don’t work here. These are the three questions we ask when designing a content test:

1. What is this content supposed to do?

Is this an ad that needs to persuade?

Do you want to educate or inform people with this content?

Do you need people to use this content in some way?

Do you want them to do something or follow some instructions?

The test therefore needs to include tasks and activities relevant to the purpose of the content. For example, In some cases, readers and users need to understand the detail and others just the ‘gist’.

2. What do we want customers not do?

We also need to consider what we don’t want people to do. The most common of these are: ignore it altogether, skip or skim over parts of it, guess what things mean, or assume they understand.

For example many customers assume they know what their insurance policy covers, so they ignore it. If that is the case, then we test whether the content gets their attention in some way.

Sometimes though it is the language and layout that alienate people. Disclosure documents are quite often written and formatted in a way that encourages readers to skip or skim. Therefore, we need the test to discover which specific words, images or sections of the layout or language deter readers from engaging with it.

3. Where will customers see or use this content?

This is based on where the person will be when they use it in real life. Will be they in transit? Then test in transit. Will be they be at home? Then do the test in home.

How much time will they devote to it? It is not good research practice to ask consumers to spend 20 minutes forensically diagnosing a TV commercial that takes 30 seconds to watch, but it could be appropriate for an investor to understand a prospectus.

How we can help

We would love to help you communicate more clearly with your users, customers and members.

We use a combination of qualitative research-based user testing, informed by plain language, behavioural science, and AI. Find out more – contact Sue.

If you are not sure what testing you need, or how testing can help, talk to us!

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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