We want people to access information about us and our services as easily and quickly as possible through the website.
When people visit a website, they usually have a purpose and want to find what they’re looking for in a short space of time. Today’s users rarely browse information.
With this in mind we take a task-focused approach to help people get straight to the information or service they need.
We think about who might be reading our content at all times. Our audience could be varied:
- age – our audience could be any age, young and old.
- background – people accessing our website could be from different areas and different social backgrounds.
- computer/IT skills – not everyone has top IT skills.
- language – English may not be the visitor’s first language.
- knowledge – the person reading our content may know little or nothing about the services we provide.
- disability – we consider those with physical disabilities, those with hearing and sight impairments or those with a hidden disability such as learning disabilities. How will they view our information?
- literacy levels – not everybody will be able to understand complex language or jargon.
We need to cater for everyone when writing for the web and the information we write needs to be understood by all. We shouldn’t use technical or bureaucratic language but instead we need to use common words in line with people’s natural reading behaviour.
Website accessibility is about making sure that our website is available to the greatest number of people whatever their needs and we’re obliged to do this as part of the Equality Act 2010.
We should bear in mind that people with learning disabilities read differently from the rest of the population. Some read letter by letter and don’t skip round a page of text.
They also experience difficulties if sentences are too long.
People with moderate learning disabilities can understand sentences of 5 to 8 words without difficulty. By using common words we can help all users understand sentences of around 25 words.
See also the sections in GOV.UK’s guidance on inclusive language and writing about disabilities .
Refer to GOV.UK’s guidance on inclusive language, and words to use and avoid when writing about disability.