Starting With Bird Killing
This post does not condone the killing of life, but it does idiomatically kill about four metaphorical birds as one metaphorical stone:
- PLN Journal - It is another entry in my PLN Journal Assignment series for INFO 233 School Library Media Centers.
- INFO 240 - The research I present was collected in conjunction with INFO 240 Information Technology Tools and Applications. In that course, we are studying design issues this week, and I chose to focus on reviewing research related to writing for the web.
- Student Project - I am currently collaborating with a teacher at my school who is implementing a project-based learning experience that involves students creating a website for the authentic audience of our local middle schools. Students have been discussing tailoring content for their audience, but this information can add awareness of crafting writing based on the delivery platform.
- Library Project - The GUHSD Library Council, made up of site teacher librarians, is creating a research website resource for students. These findings may help guide us in developing a website that is more usable.
People Don't Use XYZ!
I will sometimes hear people complain about users - particularly students - not using XYZ service or resource, but I see lack of use as evidence of at least three things:
- Users don't know about XYZ - This may mean that more marketing is necessary. How can I get the word out better? How can I link to XYZ web resource more or differently?
- Users don't need XYZ - XYZ may not matter to them. Have I analyzed user needs? Can I help users see the value and relevancy of XYZ?
- XYZ is not usable enough - How can XYZ be better designed? How can I make content more visually appealing? better organized? clearly written?
Writing For The Web Is Different...
...or at least it should be different from writing an essay, for instance. Why? Because people read websites differently than they read print material. Below are some key research findings regarding online reading.
Web readers read both faster and slower.
- Users may judge a website in as little as 1/20 of a second. (Source: Powers of 10: Time Scales in User Experience)
- The average web page visit is only 30 seconds, with many users leaving a website they deem as "bad" within the first 10 seconds. (Source: Powers of 10: Time Scales in User Experience)
- While readers may spend less time reading, research indicates that reading itself takes more time. (Source: Why Web Users Scan Instead of Reading)
Web readers read less.
- Readers may only read about 20% of the words on a web page. (Source: How Little Do Users Read?)
- Readers follow an F-shaped pattern of reading, paying closest attention to content along the top and vertically along the left side of a web page. (Source: F-Shaped Pattern For Reading Web Content)
- Similarly, readers pay much more attention to web content “above the fold,” in other words, content at the top of a web page that does not require scrolling to view. (Source: The Fold Manifesto: Why the Page Fold Still Matters)
How To Write For The Web
Since people read differently on the web, it is important to write differently in order to effectively convey information.
Here are some helpful introductory articles:
- Be Succinct! (Writing for the Web) - Useful suggestions include writing more succinctly, breaking up text into smaller chunks, and using structural elements such as headings and formatting.
- Legibility, Readability, and Comprehension: Making Users Read Your Words - Specific tips for improving content span design elements, such as font and color choices, to writing advice, including use of simple wording and active voice.
- Writing for the Web - A concise summary that hits the major points of writing for the web and also features the inverted pyramid diagram.
- How to Write for the Web - A slightly longer summary about writing for the web that provides basic background information and cleanly outlined tips and charts.
Writing With Teens In Mind
Working with teens, I thought I would also share one final article related to this audience: Teenage Usability: Designing Teen-Targeted Websites. Findings show that with teens, it is even more important to make writing succinct, to use formatting wisely, and to integrate interactive features while keeping design uncluttered.