Use simple language

The notion that citizens expect governments to use formal language may not be entirely accurate. Using consistent, simple, and clear language is a core principle of user-centric design.

By adopting simple language:

  • You enhance accessibility - Not everyone has the same reading level. Using simpler language makes your content accessible to a broader audience, including those with learning disabilities or for whom English is a second language.

  • You improve clarity and understanding - Using complex or technical language can be a barrier to comprehension. Simpler language ensures all users can understand the information being communicated.

  • You save time - When citizens can quickly understand the information they're reading, it reduces the time spent on misinterpretations and questions, leading to a smoother user experience.

Research exercises like highlighter testing have shown that simple language is more effective for comprehension. In these tests, participants highlight parts of the text they find difficult to understand, revealing areas where simpler language could improve comprehension.

Following guidelines like the United Kingdom's government Content Design guidance can assist in creating accessible and easy-to-understand content. Simplicity in language is a tool that enhances inclusivity and usability, reflecting a government that values its citizens' diverse capabilities and time.

Further reading: Testing for UX writers - know when your words are working.

Last updated