South African Provincial Government Websites Fail to Meet Basic Plain Language Guidelines

Evelyn Wolf
2 min read
VisibleThread conducted an analysis across 30-plus Provincial Government websites from Gauteng, KZN and the Western Cape.

Cape Town, South Africa, Monday 8th August 2016. VisibleThread, a global leader in content quality management, reports communication on South Africa government websites fails to meet basic plain writing standards. The company’s Website Clarity Index analysis focused on 30-plus Provincial Government websites from Gauteng, Kwazulu Natal and the Western Cape. You can download the full report here.

“Despite well-established consequences, poor writing on government websites continues to be common,” stated Fergal McGovern, CEO of VisibleThread. “In a country where the language of government is a second language for many of its citizens, poor communication will result in inefficiency and affect service delivery.”

Governments that adopt plain language practices when crafting communication for citizens benefit from increased compliance, higher revenues and other positive outcomes.  VisibleThread’s analysis found that only 13 percent of Provincial Government websites meet recommended readability standards. Writing on most sites is at or above a college reading level – above the capabilities of a majority of South Africa’s citizens.  South Africa does not have a mandated plain language policy for government.

“Improving written communication is a relatively inexpensive undertaking for governments,” added McGovern.  “Yet, despite a quick return-on-investment and other positive long term benefits, many administrations overlook the opportunity.”

VisibleThread’s index ranks the clarity of provincial website writing on four distinct measures.  Specific departments performed better than others in the analysis.  The company produces its Website Clarity Index reports through data extracted from its VisibleThread Web language analysis software.  VisibleThread Web helps organizations extract deep insights from written content that appears online.

You can download the full report here:

About VisibleThread

VisibleThread helps executives in large organizations govern content quality with less cost and risk. Communications, marketing and sales teams in diverse industries use our technology to improve many functions, including proposal development, contract review, and brand audits. Our software finds brand compliance, poor readability, and other issues in websites and documents. Unlike consumer-grade analysis tools, VisibleThread processes hundreds of documents and web pages in minutes. Fuelled with greater insights, customers reduce costs and automate manual processes across their organizations. For more information, visit


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