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Since the topic of readability formulas sometimes comes up on this list, I
thought I'd post the following link: http://www.humanfactors.com/downloads/jun022.htm
I think this does a wonderful job of pointing out the flaws in many current
readability formulas and providing a reality check. I've often observed that
the easiest way to prove readability formulas don't work is to randomize the
order of the words and rerun the formula; this article went one step further
and created nonsense words from random letters and got even more impressive
The newsletter also contains an interesting section at the end on usability
testing, which acknowledges the problem that many testers hate to criticize
a design because it can instead seem to be a criticism of the designers.
This particular example related to Indian test participants, but the basic
principle seems robust: encouraging test participants to role-play their way
through a usability test can remove some of the obstacles to expressing an
opinion. Whether or how well this would work for a western audience is open
to question, but worth investigating.
--Geoff Hart, geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada
580 boul. St-Jean
Pointe-Claire, Que., H9R 3J9 Canada
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