File this under the “more information than you ever really needed” category, but in case you wanted to know, the Web provides a resource to determine if your site is appropriate for your readers. The site, www.twurdy.com – a beta version powered via Google – claims to use “text analysis software to ‘read’ each page before it is displayed in the results. Then Twurdy (which is the shortened form of ‘too wordy’) gives each page a readability level. Twurdy then shows the readability level of the page along with a color-coded system to help users determine how easy the page will be to understand.”
How does it work? Just type your site’s URL into the Twurdy search bar and the site spits back results. The darker orange your site is, the more difficult the readability level.
According to the site, the tool is designed to help users determine the appropriateness of the sites they’re using. If you’re a fourth-grader doing a science fair project, for example, you may want to avoid sites with really high readability levels (perhaps too confusing). If you’re a PhD candidate, then you can avoid the sites meant for little kids (perhaps too basic).
From a scholastic news Web site standpoint, the results can be just as telling. While not entirely scientific, the results can give you a basic readability gauge. For example, when I typed in www.hilite.org (Carmel High School’s HiLite newspaper Web site), I got a readability level of 554, which is somewhere in the middle of the scale. Typing other news site URLs provided similar results. The New York Times site sat at 669. The Indianapolis Star? 670. CNN? 547.