Concise, SCANNABLE, and Objective: Simple tips to Write when it comes to Web

5 september 2019   Okategoriserade

Concise, SCANNABLE, and Objective: Simple tips to Write when it comes to Web

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

Unfortunately, this paper is created in a print writing style and is somewhat too academic however you like. We know this is certainly bad, but the paper was written since the traditional method of reporting on a research study. We have a summary that is short is more fitted to online reading.


”Really good writing – that you don’t see much of that on line,” said one of our test participants. And our impression that is general is most internet users would agree. Our studies claim that current Web writing often does not support users in achieving their main goal: to locate useful information as quickly as you possibly can.

We have been running Web usability studies since 1994 Nielsen 1994b, Nielsen and Sano 1994, Nielsen 1995. Our research reports have been much 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 now have collected many user comments about the content in this long group of studies. Indeed, we have come to recognize that content is king in the user’s mind: When asked for feedback on an internet page, users will comment on the high quality and relevance regarding the content to a much greater extent that we consider to be ”user interface” (as opposed to simple information) than they will comment on navigational issues or the page elements. Similarly, when a full page pops up, users focus their attention from the center of the window where they browse the body text before they bother looking over headerbars or other navigational elements.

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

  • users do not keep reading the Web; instead they scan the pages, wanting to pick out a sentences that are few even parts of sentences to obtain the information they desire
  • users do not like long, scrolling pages: they like the text to be short and to the idea
  • users detest anything that may seem like marketing fluff or overly hyped language (”marketese”) and prefer information that is factual.

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

”One piece of advice, folks: Why don’t we 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 devoted to. ” and ”Solaris is a operating that is leading in today’s business world. ” does not give me, as an engineer, a lot of confidence in your capability. I do want to hear fact, not platitudes and ideology that is self-serving. Hell, why not just paint your home page red beneath the moving banner of, ”Computers around the globe, Unite under the Sun motherland that is glorious!”

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 series of studies that specifically looked at how users read Web pages.

Overview of Studies

We conducted three studies by which a complete of 81 users read Web pages. The first two studies were exploratory and qualitative and were targeted at generating understanding of how users read and what they like and dislike. The third study was a measurement study aimed at quantifying the possibility advantages from probably the most promising writing styles identified in the first two studies. All three studies were conducted throughout the summer of 1997 when you look at 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. And even though we had conducted some earlier studies with non-technical participants, almost all of our studies had used highly technical users. Also, because of the nature of our site, almost all of the data collected from site surveys was supplied by technical users.

In Study 1, we tested a total of 11 users: 6 end-users and 5 users that are technical. The difference that is main technical and non-technical users appeared to play out in participants’ familiarity and expertise with search tools and hypertext. The technical users were better informed about how exactly to do searches than the end-users were. Technical users also seemed more aware of and more interested in following hypertext links. One or more end-user said he could be college homework help sometimes reluctant to use hypertext for fear of getting lost.

Apart from those differences, there appeared as if no major differences in 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 similar to those found in almost all of our previous Web usability studies. Users were typically taken up to the house page of a specific website and then asked to find specific all about the site. This approach was taken to steer clear of the well-known problems when users need certainly to find things by searching the entire Web PollockWeb that is entire and Hockley 1997. Here is an example task:

you’re planning a vacation to Las Vegas and want to find out about a restaurant that is local by chef Charlie Trotter. You heard it was found in the MGM Grand casino and hotel, however you want extra information concerning the restaurant. You start by looking at the website for Restaurants & Institutions magazine at:

Hint: try to find stories on casino foodservice

You will need to find out:
-what the article said about the restaurant
-where most food is served in the riverboat casino

Unfortunately, the internet happens to be so hard to utilize that users wasted enormous levels of time looking for the specific page that contained the response to the question. Even if in the intended page, users often could not get the answer simply because they didn’t see the line that is relevant. As a result, most of Study 1 finished up repeating navigation issues that people knew from previous studies and we also got fewer results than desired relating to actual reading of content.

Users Want to Search

Upon visiting each site, the majority of for the participants wanted to start with a keyword search. ”a search that is good is key for a great website,” one participant said. If search engines was not available, a number of the participants said, they would try utilising the browser’s ”Find” command.

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

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 Both comments and pings are currently closed.