Australia is a diverse mix of cultures and backgrounds, impacting the changing needs of our digital audiences and the way they access information and services online. Having a readable and accessible website is becoming an even higher priority, as consumers are becoming more accustomed to a better user experience, they are demanding a more inclusive digital experience. 

The readability of your website is all about how difficult a page is to read. A good standard to aim for is around grade 8-9 in the Australian grade level system (12-14 years), however the ideal range should be based on your target users' demography. For this we need to consider a wide range of factors such as average age, education level and ethnic background.

What makes Australia different from other markets is the large number of the population that the primary spoken and written language (English), is actually their second language. The 2017 National Census shows that Australia has a higher proportion of people born overseas—26% of the total 24.4 million population. That’s more than the United States (14%), Canada (22%), and New Zealand (23%). What about the United Kingdom? Not even close at 13%. With more than 300 languages spoken in our homes (including Auslan – Australian Sign Language), we are a hugely diverse nation.

When we delve even deeper, we find that almost half (49%) of our entire population in 2016 was born overseas, or had at least one parent born overseas.

Is your website accessible to the 26% of Australians that English is not their first language?

As Australia continues to grow and the population becomes more ethnically diverse, it is important that marketers ensure digital environments are more inclusive, especially for those who don’t speak English as a first language.

If your website does not meet readability best practices, is difficult to understand or access, or provides a poor user experience, you could be missing out on valuable opportunities to effectively speak to your audience. Aside from the the social inclusion considerations, readability and accessibility also impacts your SEO, affecting your search ranking and discoverability of your website.

All industries are affected by this change in demographic, but if we look at the education sector, we can see some of the biggest changes developing. The Department of Education and Training shows an 11% increase in the number of international students in 2018—that’s more than 690,000. The higher education sector saw the largest share with 46%. Of those numbers, the majority came from China and India, where English is not the primary language.

With foreign student intake projected to hit one million per year, how can we afford not to work toward digital inclusion? The interaction and buying potential of those students doesn’t stop with the educational industries—those students will be shopping, eating, travelling, working, buying and interacting online. There’s not a marketer out there that shouldn’t be thinking about website accessibility for this growing audience.

How will the growing diversity in Australia affect your organisation? Are you ready to create a more accessible and user friendly digital presence?

Read more about how readability impacts your website and download the Readability Checklist.