User testing based on the science of language

Our user testing has been designed by a researcher who is also a linguist, drawing on the science of language. Our philosophy is that writers need to understand users, especially how those users talk and how they read.

What is the science of language?

The science of language has three components, for the purposes of user testing:

  1. The psychology of reading

  2. Conversation science, and

  3. Sensemaking

The science of language: reading

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.

The science of language: conversation 

We have studied conversation science, so we know how people talk about what they have read, especially friction points. A friction point when reading is when the reader is uncertain about or puzzled by the content, such as not knowing what a particular word means. At these friction points, people use certain verbal cues that reveal their uncertainty.  These include what is known as 'self-repair' - correcting yourself - for example. Our researchers are briefed to listen for these verbal cues, so we can quickly determine when someone has misunderstood. 

The science of language: sensemaking

Sensemaking is how people make sense of things - how they ascribe meaning to what they see and read.  For example, when faced with new information people may assimilate it into their existing knowledge bank, change their ideas about things work, or resist that new information.  Our user testing is designed to uncover what readers do with the information they read.

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