Friday, 14 October 2011 19:48

Better Writing Articles Tips

WRITERS-PLEASE READ.

People rarely read Web pages word by word; instead, they scan the page, picking out individual words and sentences. In research on how people read websites we found that 79 percent of our test users always scanned any new page they came across; only 16 percent read word-by-word. (Update: a newer study found that users read email newsletters even more abruptly than they read websites.)

As a result, Web pages have to employ scannable text, using

  • highlighted keywords (hypertext links serve as one form of highlighting; typeface variations and color are others)
  • meaningful sub-headings (not "clever" ones)
  • bulleted lists
  • one idea per paragraph (users will skip over any additional ideas if they are not caught by the first few words in the paragraph)
  • the inverted pyramid style, starting with the conclusion
  • half the word count (or less) than conventional writing

 

 

 

Measuring the Effect of Improved Web Writing

To measure the effect of some of the content guidelines we had identified, we developed five different versions of the same website (same basic information; different wording; same site navigation). We then had users perform the same tasks with the different sites. As shown in the table, measured usability was dramatically higher for the concise version (58% better) and for the scannable version (47% better). And when we combined three ideas for improved writing style into a single site, the result was truly stellar: 124% better usability.

Site VersionSample ParagraphUsability Improvement
(relative to control condition)
Promotional writing (control condition)
using the "marketese" found on many commercial websites
Nebraska is filled with internationally recognized attractions that draw large crowds of people every year, without fail. In 1996, some of the most popular places were Fort Robinson State Park (355,000 visitors), Scotts Bluff National Monument (132,166), Arbor Lodge State Historical Park & Museum (100,000), Carhenge (86,598), Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer (60,002), and Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park (28,446).0%
(by definition)
Concise text
with about half the word count as the control condition
In 1996, six of the best-attended attractions in Nebraska were Fort Robinson State Park, Scotts Bluff National Monument, Arbor Lodge State Historical Park & Museum, Carhenge, Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer, and Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park.58%
Scannable layout
using the same text as the control condition in a layout that facilitated scanning
Nebraska is filled with internationally recognized attractions that draw large crowds of people every year, without fail. In 1996, some of the most popular places were:
  • Fort Robinson State Park (355,000 visitors)
  • Scotts Bluff National Monument (132,166)
  • Arbor Lodge State Historical Park & Museum (100,000)
  • Carhenge (86,598)
  • Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer (60,002)
  • Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park (28,446).
47%
Objective language
using neutral rather than subjective, boastful, or exaggerated language (otherwise the same as the control condition)
Nebraska has several attractions. In 1996, some of the most-visited places were Fort Robinson State Park (355,000 visitors), Scotts Bluff National Monument (132,166), Arbor Lodge State Historical Park & Museum (100,000), Carhenge (86,598), Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer (60,002), and Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park (28,446).27%
Combined version
using all three improvements in writing style together: concise, scannable, and objective
In 1996, six of the most-visited places in Nebraska were:
  • Fort Robinson State Park
  • Scotts Bluff National Monument
  • Arbor Lodge State Historical Park & Museum
  • Carhenge
  • Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer
  • Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park
124%

 

Please read the full article from UseIt.com

 

More Info:

Long vs. Short Articles as Content Strategy

Last modified on Friday, 14 October 2011 20:08