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Topic: How Users Read on the Web
Replies: 1   Last Post: Jul 8, 1998 11:56 AM

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Sarah Seastone

Posts: 1,240
Registered: 12/3/04
How Users Read on the Web
Posted: Jul 8, 1998 10:06 AM
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The Director of the Math Forum, Gene Klotz, found this page that discusses
what elements on Web pages make for retention of content and what can get
in the way.

"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."

Take a look at the page, then read the conclusions:

"It was somewhat surprising to us that usability was improved by a good
deal in the objective language version (27% better). We had expected that
users would like this version better than the promotional site (as indeed
they did), but we thought that the performance metrics would have been the
same for both kinds of language. As it turned out, our four performance
measures (time, errors, memory, and site structure) were also better for
the objective version than for the promotional version. Our conjecture to
explain this finding is that promotional language imposes a cognitive
burden on users who have to spend resources on filtering out the hyperbole
to get at the facts. When people read a paragraph that starts "Nebraska is
filled with internationally recognized attractions," their first reaction
is no, it's not, and this thought slows them down and distracts them from
using the site."

- Sarah
Sarah Seastone
Online Coordinator, Sum98
Editor, Archivist, Web Page Designer
The Math Forum

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