Talk to Me Like I’m Five


There are some days, usually when I’ve not had enough coffee, where things just don’t make sense to me. If I get an enthusiastic colleague or client on the phone when this happens, who tends to speak at a high level, using euphemisms, words that are PhD level, and tries to explain something as though they were lecturing at MIT, I’ve been known to say, “Please, talk to me like I’m five.” That usually gets the message across (and a laugh), and helps me get to the heart of the conversation.


On the flip side, I’ve been known to do the same thing. I can tend to be wordy and more “academic” than necessary. This is one reason Twitter and I are not good friends on many days.


Your company’s website is no different – it’s been long said that keeping it simple gets you further. Making things simple to understand can give potential customers a sense of trust that you “speak their language” and makes them more comfortable.


Sometimes, when creating web content, it can be easy to get caught up in terminology that you may use on a daily basis, but your customers don’t. Or, you can get too long winded in the heat of trying to give enough information to get your audience to reach out and become a customer.


A great tool I’ve found is right within Google – it’s easily overlooked, but can be useful in learning more about your writing level.


Next time you are doing online searches in Google, take a minute to look at your company’s website. Simply type in on the Google search bar. Once the results come up, click on “all results” below the search bar so you can open up the drop down menu and click on “reading level”:


amazon reading level


This is what you’ll see next:


amazon reading level 2


By clicking on basic, intermediate, or advanced, you can filter the search results to see what sites or content is generating that reading level result. I’d first go to the advanced option – if your company site shows up in this search result, it may be time to rethink the content you’ve incorporated into your site.


In the case of Amazon, it looks like there are some links to some advanced reading reviews and discussions in the advanced tab, which is okay given the nature of the information being shared.


amazon reading level 3


Depending on your industry, having your website show up under basic or intermediate search results is best. The simpler you make it, the more likely customers will linger on your site to learn more, and hopefully make a purchase!





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