I ran four usability tests this week and two of the participants had serious difficulty reading my text on the screen.
One person was dyslexic and really struggled. 10% of people are dyslexic!
Evolutionarily, written language is completely new. Aural language is much more natural to us. So this person read aloud in order that the words could be 'input' through her ears, HOWEVER, she read many of the words incorrectly, so the sentences she read to herself didn't make sense. When that happened, she skipped to the next sentence. A bit like when your grandad talks about how he's put Tomatorite on his tomatoes no matter how often you say "it's called Tomorite". Nature's predictive text.
Another claimed to have no problem, but was not native English and although she claimed she dreamed in English, she struggled almost as much.
Let's just grasp that. Half of the people I tested couldn't easily or comfortably read the text on my website. It was hard work to them.
As a true web developer, I partly consider this a problem of accessibility. One possibility may simply have been that I didn't write clearly enough, and didn't provide enough bullet points. I've always liked the Plain English Campaign http://www.plainenglish.co.uk/ and have always wanted to take their courses but found them too expensive but I see there are some affordable options now.
Frankly, I should have also written my text for the two speeds people read at. 1) People check the first appearance for less than a second and hit the back button if it doesn't seem right. 2) People skim to see if it's going to be worth their while. 3) Only then do people read. I didn't do that. I just wrote what I wanted to write, like a proper idiot, and assumed everyone was with me.
A good web developer would consider layout for readability. Think about line length, columns, window size, line spacing, justified -v- unjustified, paragraph indentation, interparagraph spacing, arrangement of headings, typeface, colours, patterns and movement/sound distractions & letter spacing.
Web development for accessibility would then say "be sure everything (including photo captions) is available to the browser in plain text so that people with poor sight can have the website read out to them by a screen reader" .. but my test subjects would never have one of those.
A web principle is "deliver the information in whatever way the user wishes to receive it". We don't force people to use a particular format of screen like Minitel did for instance. So for these users, an audio version of the text would have worked a treat. Video, perhaps even better.
Anecdotally, a dyslexic friend of ours learned by watching. We only had to show her once and she had it. I'm guessing she got good that way as a coping mechanism. Everyone has a strength.
Now, personally, I think text is great. I don't watch video, because I think of it as a massive intrusion on my time. 5 minutes long? I'll take the text and skim it thank you. A sales video with no way to pause and skip? I'll start it playing and instead of listening to it, I'll go take a shower and come back when it's finished and is displaying the price. But that's me. I'm obviously in the minority.
So today's tweak is to do all of these things, because readability is so BIG! Check your website for readability. Add video. A Million Tweaks should be a daily podcast (interest in podcasts is rising https://trends.google.co.uk/trends/explore?geo=GB&q=podcast).
Get it done by: http://www.websitesthat.co.uk
For: .. there's a lot to do here, but the prize is much better conversion (more sales), so let's do all of this for your most popular page and measure the results. The price depends on what's needed.