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Test Your Site with Users with Limited Literacy Skills


There’s no surefire way to control who comes to your website—and why would you want to? The web is for everyone.

As mentioned previously in this guide, as many as half of U.S. adults have limited literacy skills—and nearly 9 in 10 have limited health literacy skills.94,95 And while the information in this guide is a good place to start when designing for users with limited literacy skills, it can’t predict user behavior on a specific tool or website.

That’s why it’s so important to test your websites and digital products with individuals with limited literacy skills.

Usability testing can take many forms. In general, it involves “watching people try to use what you’re creating/designing/building (or something you have already created/designed/built), with the intention of making it easier for people to use or proving that it is easy to use.”96

The goal is to get feedback from users to truly understand their motivations and behaviors online. Conducting usability testing will help you answer important questions like:

  • Can users find the information they’re looking for?
  • Can our users understand and act on this information?
  • Are user interface elements intuitive and easy to use?

Have users try out your website as you plan, design, and develop it—early and often.

The specific approach you choose will depend on the goals of your research, how much access you have to your users, and the details of your project, timeline, and budget. Learn more about usability testing.

Below we outline important strategies for you to consider when conducting usability testing with limited-literacy users.