Decoding information into plain language helps everyone involved and—most importantly, perhaps—saves money in the long run.
Business owners can learn from this.
Writers and marketers alike have been championing plain English for years because the benefits are so good for the bottom line. When you communicate in a language everyone can understand, you get more readers. When you get more readers, you can spread your message more widely. When that happens, you sell more.
What Is Plain English?
Plain English is a jargon-free language that can be easily understood by most people.
People read informational text differently from literary text. Even bookworms who read novels for enjoyment and pore over every sentence don’t carry those reading habits over to info they find on the web.
We scan pages. We read quickly. We want the information fast. If we don’t get it fast enough, we look elsewhere.
Plain English is ideally written at a ninth-grade reading level. It helps us read fast and understand more quickly.
This doesn’t mean that, if you have a complex product or service, you have to dumb it down for the lowest common denominator. It means that you should explain those complexities.
- Use short, easy-to-follow sentences.
- Use compound sentences sparingly.
- Avoid unnecessary jargon.
- Explain industry terms if you think your audience may be unfamiliar with them.
Engineers read dense papers from their field all the time. But they don’t want to read dense text online.
As a rule of thumb, the simpler a sentence can be, the better.
Where To Use Plain English
It’s a good idea to use plain English everywhere.
It all starts with your marketing materials. If your website is easy to parse and understand, you’ll get more engaged prospects and more interest in your business. Your sales materials, such as your quotes and your terms and conditions, should be clear and easy to understand, too. Even the documentation that goes after the sale—invoices and user guides, for example—benefit from simple language because each of these texts is a touchpoint with your brand.
Make every written interaction easy.
This all results in more calls to your sales department and fewer calls to your help desk.