Plain Language Awards

Celebrate the stories of our clearest business communicators

What types of user-testing do judges look for?

Judges look for user-testing that shows insight
into how real readers will use your document

User-testing allows you to improve your document so that it works as effectively as possible.

User-testing can be done formally or informally, depending on the situation and the available budget. At the very least, give your document to several readers outside your team or organisation and ask a few questions to get their reaction. Use that feedback to improve the document.

Ideally, judges like to see one or more of the following types of testing. And iterative testing, where the document is retested after feedback has been incorporated, is best of all.

User-testing for an annual report might include these steps.

  • Measuring opening rates, click rates, and feedback rates
  • Gathering, analysing, and applying feedback from readers
  • Testing the previous year’s report using the ‘think-aloud’ testing method and using the insights when developing the next report (see note below)
  • Testing proposed new designs or formats with readers (for example, visual design and text design or online design and usability)
  • Testing components of the report to see how well readers understand the way the information is presented (for example, graphs and charts)

In think-aloud testing, document analysts observe a reader interacting with the document. They encourage them to talk about what they are doing and thinking, while recording the session. They report on what happened, and on the implications for potential misunderstandings and inefficiencies.

Other forms of testing such as ‘protocol testing’ use more directed questions to gather reader reactions.

Judges for the 2022 Plain Language Awards

How the judging process works

Plain language criteria for documents and websites

Entry terms and conditions