User testing of written content

Why do our clients test their written content?

In this fast paced and complex time, businesses and governments need all their communications to be clear, concise and accurate. This can be hard to achieve because:

  • Users and customers choose what they want to read. When a customer receives unsolicited information from an organisation, they read only what they want to read.  While some of these choices can be predicted by theory, theory only takes you so far, because readers base their decisions about what to read on three things: interest in the topic, language and layout.

  • To write well, you need to understand your readers. The mistake that we see writers make most often is making incorrect assumptions about their readers. Some assume that readers will want to read their content. Some write in a language that users do not understand, or assume some prior knowledge. Some forget the importance of information design. You need to learn what customers think, feel and know from your customers. The best way for managers in organisations to predict and encourage people to read, understand, and act on the information is to understand the experience from the customers' point of view.

How we help our clients write to their users and customers

To help our clients, we have developed a user testing of written content research method, described later on this page. Our user testing of written content is usually small in scale, is easily affordable and can be turned around quickly.

Our user testing skills

The skills we bring to this are:

  • Decades of experience testing written content

  • Deep knowledge of the psychology of language

  • Rich qualitative research expertise

  • Plain language training

To talk to us about how our testing can help you, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


When and what to test

Whether and when to test existing, draft, or new content

I explain below when to test existing content, when to test draft content, and when to test new content.

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Our user testing model for testing written content

Susan Bell Research has developed a unique model to use as the basis of our user testing for written content. It is based on the idea that only users can teach you whether your written content is effective. 

Our model follows the sequence: empathise, observe, detect and propose.

  1. We start with empathy so that we understand what your users want, think and feel.  What is their mindset when they see your content?
  2. We design our testing to observe how your users behave when they interact with your content.

  3. Then we diagnose the reasons for that behaviour. For example users may stop reading because the words were jargon or the language full of waffle.

  4. Finally, we propose new copy that will engage your users more effectively. Our recommendations are based on plain language principles and the psychology of language.

To understand more about how our user testing can help you, contact Sue on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   or  phone 0409 657 317

The hidden problem in customer experience

In this short video, I explain how our user testing will help you solve a hidden problem in customer experience.  Hint: it's to do with language: 

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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.

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Why reading is like running

This new video explains why reading is like running.

If you write to users or customers and want to make sure you achieve the best possible outcome, these insights from the science of language will help.

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User testing methods: discovery or evaluation 

Our primary method is the think-aloud one on one Discovery interview. This form of testing takes 30 to 45 minutes on average. Sample sizes vary but are typically between 10 and 30  people in total. We test with your designated target market.

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What type of written content can we test?

Some examples of our user testing for written content:

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How to book in a Discovery Call about user testing for written content

If you are not sure what you need, or would appreciate our advice, we offer free consultation.  This call is obligation free and completely confidential. Together, we can discuss the content that you are considering testing and work out what kind of testing it needs - if any. 

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Why you need independent user testing for your content

The benefits of using an independent user testing agency that specialises in written content are:

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What is Duty of Reasonable Care user testing?

General insurers in Australia need to meet Duty of Reasonable Care obligations because they have a duty to ensure that consumers do not make inadvertent errors, The insurer must ask the consumer the right questions and take customers' vulnerabilities into account. Questions must not be ambiguous.

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