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Best Practices: Make it scannable

Make it Scannable

Use small chunks of content

  • Chunk = manageable bit
  • Don't write prose.
  • Keep sentences to one or two points.
  • Keep paragraphs short. A one sentence paragraph is OK.
  • Use lists.
  • Use fragments and phrases.
  • Use pictures and other visual elements.

Example: Read Nielsen's How Users Read on the Web and scroll down to "Measuring the Effect of Improved Web Writing."

Take a look at an article on CNN. Where do your eyes go? What has CNN done to improve the reading experience?

Include only what users want and need.

  • How?
    • Cut! Cut! Cut! Find the essence.
    • Put it away for a day or two.
    • Look it over and cut again.
  • With each sentence, ask: Do users want or need that?
  • Then ask: Do they really want or need that?
  • Morkes and Nielsen cut the words by 54% and people thought the site's treatment of topics was more complete. Read more: Applying Writing Guidelines to Web Pages

People like patterns

  • We grasp the information more quickly if we can anticipate the pattern.
  • We try to see patterns in information even when there are none.
  • When we have to switch patterns, we use extra mental energy.
No: Yes, uses parallelism:

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