Monday, December 21, 2009

The Mathematics of Readability

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Maths is used for many things, including working out how readable web pages are.
There are actually Mathematical formulas that examine how long sentences are, and how many syllables are in the words on a web page. These values are then number crunched together to give results such as: "Gunning Fog Index", "Flesch Reading Ease", and "Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level" values.

Based on these values, we can work out if our web pages are easy to read, and how old a person needs to be to clearly understand the content. These same calculations can also be applied to any written text in books or magazines.

There is a brilliant technical explanation about all of this science at:

This site also has a "Readability Calculator". You can enter the URL address of any web page from the Internet, and determine the key mathematical values for its readability levels.

But first things first, and we need to learn about each of these "Readability Scales", how to Calculate them and interpret the results. The following Slideshare presentation covers this. (Use the bottom toolbar "full" icon to go full screen, click the right arrow to advance, and then use the Escape key to return to this blog).

Using this type of Mathematics, we can analyse books and web pages.
This is handy if you have a blog, because you can analyse each page, and check its reading level.

The results from the Juicy Studio Readability Test of all of the post pages in "Passy's World of ICT" show that our website is not easy to read:

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It seems that BIG Passy has been using too many BIG fancy words, and writing BIG sentences that are far too long! So this is something we will be working on throughout 2010. Not that we do not want to dumb it down to Neanderthal level, but we certainly need to make some improvements.

Big Passy Wasabi

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