Put your materials to the test

tipsAre you preparing public legal education and information (PLE) materials? Or, trying to adapt your existing PLE materials for a new audience? The best way to find out if your information will be useful to your target audience is to “field test” it – or ask them what they think of it before you complete the project.

No room in your budget to hire a company to run focus groups? Here are some suggestions for cheap and cheerful ways to test your PLE materials.

Group testing: Bring together people who represent the audience and have a structured discussion about your material, including its organization, appearance, and general content.

While group testing provides information about how the group feels about the material, it’s not a good way to find out if people understand the content. To test understanding, choose individual testing.

Individual testing: Ask individuals to read the material and then talk to them to see if they can understand the specific content or find answers within it. This type of testing comes closest to what would happen in a real situation.

Talking aloud: Ask readers to read the material and describe it in their own words out loud. This gives you very good information about what’s unclear or confusing. But your participants need to be comfortable reading out loud.

You can also use questionnaires or online surveys to help you reach a wider group of people. See CLEO’s Better Legal Information Handbook for sample questions and more information on testing PLE materials.

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