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Websites have some of the most complex information I work on as a content designer. Many pages are misunderstood, criticised for having too much information on them, irrelevant or boring. Sentences are too lengthy, words are too complex, use management speak, legal jargon and acronyms. Some people find it impossible to follow, and it’s not useful to users.

Writing content is very different from a few years ago. As a content designer and former digital content editor for Government, I choose the best words to explain what you need to know. The use of plain English doesn’t lose the original message, but actually opens up information to everyone.

In a 2012 study by Christopher Trudeau, 80% of the people who responded preferred sentences written in plain English. The more complicated the issue, the more they preferred to read simpler language. It also found that people with specialist knowledge had an even greater preference for plain English. This is because those with the highest literacy levels and the greatest expertise tend to have the most to read. They don’t have the time to wade through pages of dry, complicated content.

We write in a more inclusive way these days. In the UK, 1 in 6 adults has difficulties reading and 10% of the UK population have dyslexia. I always write content with these users in mind, if I didn’t, our service won’t be meeting user needs.

The way we use words can carry great significance. With the end user in mind, I make sure everyone understands the information. That’s why, as a content designer, I ‘pair write’ with subject matter experts. This creates content that’s accurate and understandable. I change complex language and jargon into plain English, communicating clear messages without losing any of the meaning. By applying intelligent content design, ‘pair writing’ and writing in plain English is a good thing for everyone.

By applying intelligent content design, ‘pair writing’ and writing in plain English is a good thing for everyone.

Donna Maksimovic