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Our New Readability Checker

Published: 21/03/2022
Readability Check with animated glasses over a piece of paper

As a Local Authority our website is full of an abundance of information covering a broad spectrum of topics, from Council Tax to Planning advice to Licensing. We therefore have to cater for our target audiences of residents and business owners, whilst striving to provide this content in plain English.

The average reading age in the UK is that of a nine-year-old so we have been working hard to bridge the gap from the readability of our written content to the national average.

This process involved the very manual task of copying and pasting nearly 1,000 pages of content into an online readability checker. After calculating the score of each page, content was rewritten and run through the online checker once again to see how much the readability had been improved.

The downside of this approach was that it was very time-consuming and we didn’t have the ability to get an accurate report of the reading age across the website.

Our Communications and IT Development teams have worked in tandem to develop an in-house readability checker, which has been embedded into our Content Management System.

Using the Flesch-Kincaid scale, the number of words and syllables per sentence is put through the formula that derives the reading age for a piece of content. Web editors can now check the reading age of their content on the fly. They are able to break down sentences and use alternative and shorter words and instantly see the impact that has on the reading age.

Another key benefit of this development is the reporting functionality. We can easily find the average reading age of our content with the ability to segment this by department and allow us to focus our attention on improving the reading age of our lowest scoring pages.