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Concise, SCANNABLE, and Objective: How to Write for the Web – MyHome

Concise, SCANNABLE, and Objective: How to Write for the Web

Concise, SCANNABLE, and Objective: How to Write for the Web

Summary: Studies of how users read on the Web found they scan the text that they do not actually read: instead. A report of five writing that is different unearthed that a sample internet site scored 58% higher in measured usability with regards to was written concisely, 47% higher if the text was scannable, and 27% higher with regards to was written in a target style rather than the promotional style used in the control condition and several current Web pages. Combining these three changes into a site that is single was concise, scannable, and objective in addition lead to 124% higher measured usability.

Unfortunately, this paper is written in a print style that is writing is somewhat too academic however you like. We realize this really is bad, but the paper was written once the way that is traditional of on a research study. We have a summary that is short is more suited for online reading.


“Really good writing – that you do not see much of that on the net,” said certainly one of our test participants. And our general impression is that most internet users would agree. Our studies claim that current Web writing often does not support users in achieving their main goal: to find information that is useful quickly as you are able to.

We have been Web that is running usability since 1994 Nielsen 1994b, Nielsen and Sano 1994, Nielsen 1995. Our research reports have been just like most other Web usability work (e.g., Shum 1996, Spool et al. 1997) and have mainly looked at site architecture, navigation, search, page design, layout, graphic elements and style, and icons. Even so, we have collected user that is many about the content with this long number of studies. Indeed, we have come to realize that content is king into the user’s mind: When asked for feedback on an internet page, users will touch upon the standard and relevance regarding the content to a much greater extent than they’re going to touch upon navigational issues or even the page elements that people consider to be “user interface” (rather than simple information). Similarly, when a typical page pops up, users focus their attention on the center for the window where they read the body text before they bother looking over headerbars or other navigational elements.

We have derived three main conclusions that are content-oriented our four years’ of Web usability studies Nielsen 1997a:

  • users try not to keep reading the net; instead they scan the pages, attempting to pick out a few sentences or even components of sentences to obtain the information they desire
  • users do not like long, scrolling pages: they like the text to be short and also to the purpose
  • users detest something that may seem like marketing fluff or overly hyped language (“marketese”) and prefer factual information.

This point that is latter well illustrated because of the following quote from a person survey we ran regarding the Sun website:

“One piece of advice, folks: let us try not to be so gratuitous and self-inflating. Beginning answers to sense that is common such as “Will Sun support my older Solaris platform?” with answers such as “Sun is exceptionally committed to. ” and “Solaris is a leading operating system in today’s business community. ” does not give me, as an engineer, lots of confidence in your ability. I want to hear fact, not platitudes and self-serving ideology. Hell, have you thought to just paint your home page red beneath the moving banner of, “Computers around the globe, Unite beneath the glorious Sun motherland!”

Even that we needed to know more about Web writing in order to advise our content creators though we have gained some understanding of Web content from studies that mainly concerned higher-level Web design issues, we felt. We therefore designed a number of studies that specifically looked at how users read Web pages.

Overview of Studies

We conducted three studies by which a total of 81 users read website pages. The very first two studies were exploratory and qualitative and were geared towards generating insight into how users read and what they like and dislike. The study that is third a measurement study targeted at quantifying the potential benefits from a few of the most promising writing styles identified in the first two studies. All three studies were conducted during the summer of 1997 in the SunSoft usability laboratories in Menlo Park, CA.

A major goal in the first study was to compare the reading behavior of technical and non-technical users. Even though we had conducted some earlier studies with non-technical participants, nearly all of our studies had used highly technical users. Also, given the nature of your site, almost all of the data collected from site surveys was supplied by technical users.

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In Study 1, we tested a total of 11 users: 6 end-users and 5 technical users. The main distinction between technical and non-technical users did actually play out in participants’ familiarity and expertise with search tools and hypertext. The technical users were better informed regarding how to execute searches compared to end-users were. Technical users also seemed more aware of and much more thinking about following hypertext links. At least one end-user said he is sometimes hesitant to use hypertext for fear of getting lost.

Apart from those differences, there appeared as if no differences that are major how technical and non-technical users approached reading on the Web. Both groups desired scannable text, short text, summaries, etc.

The tasks were classic directed tasks comparable to those used in almost all of our Web that is previous usability. Users were typically taken fully to the home page of a website that is specific then asked to find specific information on the site. This approach was taken fully to steer clear of the well-known problems when users need to find things by searching the entire Web PollockWeb that is entire and Hockley 1997. Let me reveal a sample task:

you’re planning a trip to Las Vegas and want to find out about a restaurant that is local by chef Charlie Trotter. You heard it absolutely was located in the MGM Grand hotel and casino, you want more details about the restaurant. You begin by looking at the website for Restaurants & Institutions magazine at: http://www.rimag.com

Hint: Look for stories on casino foodservice

Attempt to find out:
-what this article said about the restaurant
-where food that is most is served in the riverboat casino

Unfortunately, the internet happens to be so difficult to use that users wasted enormous levels of time trying to find the page that is specific contained the response to the question. Even though from the intended page, users often could not get the answer simply because they did not begin to see the line that is relevant. As an end result, much of Study 1 finished up repeating navigation issues we got fewer results than desired relating to actual reading of content that we knew from previous studies and.

Users Want to Search

Upon visiting each site, the majority of associated with participants wanted to focus on a keyword search. “a search that is good is key for a beneficial website,” one participant said. If a search engine had not been available, a number of the participants said, they might try making use of the browser’s “Find” command.

Sometimes participants needed to be asked to try and find the information without the need for a search tool, because searching had not been a focus that is main of study.


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