Study Finds Few Stars Among Texas Government Websites

Evelyn Wolf
2 min read
Texas gov plain language
Complex and Poorly Written Copy Reported by VisibleThread Website Clarity Index

AUSTIN, Texas, May 5, 2016 — VisibleThread issued a report today on the clarity of Texas government websites. Findings suggest that Texas agency communication is unnecessarily complex and hard to read. The report analyzes factors that separate top performing sites from those with poor writing.  You can download the full report here.

“Poor communication is frequently overlooked in government, despite its correlation with lower revenues and poor compliance levels,” stated Fergal McGovern, CEO of VisibleThread. “The average American reads at an eight-grade level and yet most agencies are writing at levels more appropriate to college-level education.”

With the exception of a handful of sites, the majority of Texas citizens would struggle to read state government web copy. Only one site included in the Index met target levels for readability. No site met target levels for passive voice or long sentences. The report provides a full analysis of site strengths and weaknesses, including detailed rankings of the 54 separate entities evaluated in the study.”

“People are less patient in digital environments and tend to skim the copy they find on websites,” added McGovern. “Website communication requires succinct and clear writing to be successful and failure can mean lost revenues.”

Efforts to improve writing quality in other states have had positive impacts on revenue. In one example, a State of Washington agency simplified the language of a single form letter and collected $800,000 more in revenue. Experts point out that as governments use more digital communication, revenue streams need to be protected through greater oversight of communication quality.

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

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. Fueled with greater insights, customers reduce costs and automate manual processes across their organizations. For more information, visit


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