Fed News Radio: Plain writing still a challenge for most government websites
Anyone who has taken a writing class remembers the basic tenets of good communication: know your audience, use short sentences and understandable words, and speak in an active voice. Why then are so many government websites falling below recommend standards for clarity?
The results of the 2017 VisibleThread Clarity Index show most of the government websites scored below average on the readability of their content. This is not good news for government agencies that depend on their websites to pass along important information to the general public.
When President Obama signed the Plain Writing Act of 2014, federal agencies were charged with using “clear government communication that the public can understand and use.”
From that law evolved a number of best-practice websites that aim to help fellow feds master the art of web writing. OPM not only has a complex plan for delivering all communications for its employees, but also offers help to other federal agencies. The GSA’s Technology Transformation Service (TTS) provides Digitalgov with a wealth of resources, “getting started” guidance, policy requirements and more. Usability.gov, an HHS site, operates an exchange of best practices and lessons learned. Plain Language.gov created a model plain language webpage endorsed by the Federal Web Managers Council.