4.2.5 Testing messages

Here are some of the factors to take into account in testing messages:

  • Do people pay attention to the messages?
  • Do people understand the messages?
  • Do people remember the messages?
  • Is it feasible for people to follow the recommendations in your messages? If not, you may need to find out what the barriers might be.
  • Is there any evidence people will change their behaviour if they understand the messages?
  • Are any parts of your messages sensitive or controversial?
  • Are the messages relevant to the people you are trying to reach?
  • Are the messages and images appropriate to the culture of the people you are trying to reach?
  • What are the strong and weak points of your messages?
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Photo courtesy of Dr. Asabe Dzikwi, University of Ahmandu Bello

There are a number of ways of testing messages. The following are some examples:

  • Focus groups: Groups of about 9-12 representatives from the target population provide feedback on the messages and graphics in an informal setting or a workshop. These workshops can also provide some insight into whether it is feasible for the target population to follow the recommendations.
  • In-depth interviews: One-to-one interviews with individuals from the target population can provide even more detailed feedback, but they are time-consuming and may only give feedback from a small sector.
  • Expert gatekeeper review: These are similar to in-depth interviews, where the topic is discussed with individuals who are local experts or “gatekeepers” who can assist in reaching the target groups.
  • Surveys can provide quantitative (numerical) evidence of the suitability of a message, if this is required.
  • Observational studies: For example, members of the target population can be observed navigating a website.
  • Readability assessments: These are quantitative assessments that identify the reading level of the messages and material, and they may be country-specific if they are related to an educational system.



previous page: 4.2.4. Developing messages

next page: 4.2.6. Choosing media and channels for messages






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Version 4 - last updated May 2017