Startup founders. Consider your language. Keep it simple.

Research shows that more than half of Americans can’t read very well. Their reading skill is below a sixth-grade level. As a startup founder, that is an important statistic. It is something you have to pay attention to. Especially if you are creating a company for regular folks.

In a world of apps and websites, language is important. I get it. You are very clever, and you can use big words. You understand that a complicated word sometimes is more precise than a simple word. Remember that you also have a duty to your audience.

The problem is not that they cannot understand. They can. A sixth grader can read complicated texts. But it takes a lot of energy. And that is not always necessary.

I used to run a startup about death. It was a tool that helped people talk to a chatbot about the end of life. At the time, the American Bar Association recommended a document. It was at a grade 20 reading level. That is no good. Everybody dies. Everybody needs good information.

The trick is to strike a balance. Use a tool like Hemingway App to gauge how hard your website is to read.

This article may be a little strange to read. Unlike most of my writing, there are many short sentences. There are not a lot of jokes and puns. According to Hemingway App, it is at a grade 3 reading level. Perhaps that is a little overkill. But I am making a point. All I’m saying is that it is possible.

Consider your audience, and write in a way that suits them. The choice is yours. Know that it can make a huge difference.

Screenshot of the Hemingway App

The Hemingway App rating for this article. Image Credits: Screenshot of the Hemingway App (opens in a new window)