Should I lower the reading level of this post?


It turns out that a website’s reading level (typically measured by school grade level) may be related to visitor behavior. This post, “Why Are Some Words Better for Your Marketing?” (Orbit Media Studios, March 2015) cites an earlier NNG study which found lowering the reading level of a pharmaceutical website from 12th grade to 8th grade increased the % of visitors who completed a task. Further, the study divided visitors into lower- and higher-literacy groups (based on education level) and found that even more highly educated visitors appeared to prefer a lower reading level site.

Does that mean the (presumably) highly educated college instructors that this site targets want me to lower the reading level? Hmmm… What do you think? The article also makes recommendations on formatting that help visitors…


This post goes on to explain how online content needs to be formatted to attract today’s article “scanners”, including:

  • Headers and subheaders
  • Bullets and italics
  • Short paragraphs
  • Internal links

The study found that formatting mattered more than word choice.

Applications for Instructors and Practitioners of Marketing

My audience here is mostly college level instructors of marketing. Should I be writing at a lower level? Formatting more?

Back to the usefulness of the article for marketing instructors. The article offers some useful insights for important “owned media” including websites and blog posts. These are important and influential communication vehicles for most brands and most probably need to be written at a lower level and formatted to make them easier to skim.

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