Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/10/04/web_plain_english/

Web to get dose of plain English

Simple as that

By Lester Haines

Posted in Financial News, 4th October 2004 13:19 GMT

The Plain English Campaign is stepping up its war against linguistic obfuscation with a new campaign in association with ebiz outfit TechnoPhobia. The plan is to promote user-friendly websites which conform to the amended Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) of 1995.

As of 1 October, the DDA requires, for instance, that job adverts on websites must - by law - be "available to people of mixed ability, whether they are able-bodied, have hearing or sight difficulties, or are suffering from any physical disability". Accordingly, the Plain English Campaign and TechnoPhobia have joined forces to "promote easily understood content for the web".

The two allies reckon that too little is being done by "New Media" to get straight to the point. The Plain English Campaign's George Maher said: "When you are involved in writing for a website, you can become too fixed on the job in hand and it is easy to confuse users by slipping into industry jargon."

The solution is simple: clean up your act and see if you can get a Plain English Campaign Internet Crystal Mark - the e-version of its respected print sign of approval. Why bother? Well, as TechnoPhobia's Pip Thorne puts it: "The business case for Plain English Campaign accreditation is obvious; if your website is usable and the content is easy to understand then it naturally follows that visitors will be more likely to convert into shoppers. The combined spending of the UK's disabled population is estimated to be in excess of £45 billion a year and an accessible site will allow purchasing on-line from a wider section of users."

And there you have it. Less is in this case most certainly more. ®

Bootnote

We at El Reg have been known to indulge in a bit of the old IT-related banter with a smidge of jargon and a soupçon of obtuse lexicological flourish, so we decided to make amends by supporting this year's Plain English Day - due to be celebrated on 6 December. We are not at this point able to reveal just how this audacious initiative will work, but readers can rest assured that they will most certainly be pleasantly surprised.

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