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Avoid Making Assumptions About Your Audience And Rework Content For Clarity

10-07-2023, 15:35

It’s easy to write website content for your visitors using language and words specific to your industry. When you live in that world, it’s easy to forget that others don’t know your industry as an insider.

Avoid Making Assumptions About Your Audience And Rework Content For Clarity


However, most visitors require that content speaks to them at the level of consumer. This means not using industry jargon, and not assuming everyone comes to your website with full industry knowledge.


Content that assumes prior knowledge tends to alienate visitors who might otherwise become loyal visitors or customers. To avoid that scenario, here are several tips you can use to increase the clarity of your content, and speak to your audience in a language they understand:


1. Use hyperlinks to provide definitions and deep explanations


When creating content for your webpages, it’s important to get your message across as quickly as possible, but you also don’t want to overlook concepts that need a deeper explanation.


Thanks to hyperlinks, you can talk about a complex subject and simply link to further explanations.


Start editing your content for clarity. Read through your content to identify concepts and words that might be foreign to the average visitor. Never assume that your visitors are in-the-know. When you come across something that needs further explanation – like the word "breadcrumb” in the web design world – link that word to a new page that explains it in detail. However, don’t overdo it and link too many words.


If the explanation of an industry-specific concept needs to be understood to grasp the message, you can certainly add it to your content without linking it out – your visitors will thank you for it.


For instance, car manufacturers that deal with awards and ratings tend to talk about them as if everyone knows what they are. Few take the time to define these ratings, so customers interpret them at face value and sometimes misunderstand them.


In the Jeep world, everyone talks about "Trail Rated” cars. "Trail Rated” sounds amazing; like you have permission to go off-roading on a remote dusty trail and go wild. In a sense, you do, but nobody seems to explain how the rating is earned or what it means.


In an article designed to educate consumers on which Jeeps are trail rated, this Jeep dealership takes the time to explain how the vehicles earn their trail rated status, in detail. The article states, "Jeep vehicles are put through their pages on the Rubicon trail in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California; the network of daunting trails around Moab, Utah and the snowy terrain of Northern Michigan to determine their Trail Rated worthiness.


According to Motor Trend Magazine, Jeep’s "Trail Rated” status indicates that the vehicle is designed to perform in challenging off-road conditions in terms of traction, ground clearance, maneuverability, articulation, and water fording.


Although, here we have a perfect example of using terms the average consumer may not understand. The magazine’s article would do well to explain "articulation” and "water fording” in layman’s terms.


2. Ask a twelve-year-old to read your content


If a twelve-year-old can understand your content, the rest of the world can, too. Anything they have questions about should be further simplified.


To put it simply, using unfamiliar or complex terms inhibits comprehension and slows readers down. Readers don’t want to be impressed with your use of big words, they want to get through your content.


Part of what you’re up against is that many people know how to read words, but they don’t necessarily understand or retain what they read. When a reader reaches a word they don’t understand, and they don’t look it up, the context of the message is lost.


This blogger openly admits that he didn’t realize he had poor comprehension until his junior year in college. "I didn’t realize that I wasn’t reading properly until my junior year when I serendipitously spotted a book on a friend’s shelf in his dorm room: Hot to Read a Book by Adler and Van Doren,” he says. "I was helped to realize that when I "read” I merely scanned words passively; I took no steps to converse with the text.”


Considering most website visitors are multi-tasking and short on attention, the simpler your content, the better. There’s nothing wrong with having a large vocabulary, but if you want people to read your content without stumbling, you should use simple words.


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