In several ways, our brains take shortcuts and come to the wrong conclusion. Designers and writers can help stop that from happening.
An important example is about easy-to-understand information. The results of a project about smoking and pregnancy show this.
The study put pregnant women who smoke or used to smoke in two groups. One group got extra lessons and coaching explaining in simple terms the importance of not smoking while pregnant and after delivery. There was also a contest for those who stayed away from smoking. The second was the control group, getting no extra lessons or coaching, but presumably exposed to the general information not to smoke in pregnancy from doctors, the news and other sources.
The reading level of the information given to the first group was at a third-grade level and because it was easy to understand and paired with the coaching, it worked better. As a result, more women in the first group stayed away from smoking.
To say that a different way: Hard to read equals hard to do. Easy to read equals easy to do.
Should every article, ad, social post or brochure be easy enough for a third grader to read? Here are some of my thoughts.