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Topic: Writing for the Web

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  • Regulatory Usability

    September 3, 2000

    Regulatory agencies should not transfer their rules from the print world unchanged to Web content that is being read in a different manner. Instead, regulations should concern the usability of the actual information and whether users understand it.

    Eyetracking Study of Web Readers

    May 14, 2000

    Poynter study confirms older Web content studies: plain headlines work best; users hunt for info, often ignore graphics, and interlace sites.

    Applying Writing Guidelines to Web Pages

    January 6, 1998

    Rewriting pages from a popular website improved measured usability by 159%. Word count was cut to 54%; long pages were split into hypertext; Web writing guidelines were applied.

    Measuring the Usability of Reading on the Web

    October 1, 1997

    How usability was quantified in a Web readability user test. Five quality metrics: task time, user errors, memory, understanding site structure, and subjective satisfaction.

    How Users Read on the Web

    October 1, 1997

    Users don't read Web pages, they scan. Highlighting and concise writing improved measured usability 47-58%. Marketese imposed a cognitive burden on users and was disliked.

    Be Succinct! (Writing for the Web)

    March 15, 1997

    Reading from screens is 25% slower than from paper and we know that Web users skim rather than read. Web text should be short, emphasize scannability, and be structured into multiple hyperlinked pages (each focused on a subtopic).

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

    January 1, 1997

    Studies of how users read on the Web found that they do not actually read: instead, they scan the text. A study of five different writing styles found that a sample Web site scored 58% higher in measured usability when it was written concisely, 47% higher when the text was scannable, and 27% higher when it was written in an objective style instead of the promotional style used in the control condition and many current Web pages. Combining these three changes into a single site that was concise, scannable, and objective at the same time resulted in 124% higher measured usability.

    Inverted Pyramids in Cyberspace

    June 1, 1996

    Web copy should follow the inverted pyramid style: start with the conclusion. Many users won't see anything else. (Updated in 2003 and 2011.)

    In Defense of Print

    February 1, 1996

    Paper remains the optimal medium for some forms of writing, especially for long works like a book. It is an unfortunate fact that current computer screens lead to a reading speed that is approximately 25% slower than reading from paper. We have invented better screens and it is just a matter of time before reading from computers is as good as reading from paper, but for the time being we have to design our information for the actual screens in use around the world.

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