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home > usability > writing content

writing content

Writing for the web is very different to writing for print. Time is of the essence to most people using the Internet, so users don't want to read reams of text on-line. Research* has shown that people tend to scan text on screen. It also harder to read from a computer screen than it is from paper.

  • Less is more - keep it concise
    • Keep sentence structure as simple as possible
    • Keep sentences short
  • Frequently highlight important words or phrases
  • Use bullet points or numbered lists where possible
  • Keep page length short - avoid too much vertical scrolling
  • Use links to highlight and take the user to further information
    • Avoid using non-descriptive phrases like "click here" - try and use a descriptive phrase for the link
  • Avoid using the <hr> (Horizontal Rule) tag (Insert > Horizontal Rule in Dreamweaver) to separate bodies of text
    • Use plenty of headings, subheadings and white space instead
      • It looks better and is easier to read
      • The <hr> tag is also deprecated html
  • Avoid centering text - it's harder to read
  • Don't use all capitals - harder to read
  • Avoid excessive italics - these are hard to read - use them for emphasis only
  • Keep content separate from style - use style sheets and include files

other resources

* How Users Read on the Web (Jakob Nielsen) -- http://www.useit.com/alertbox/9710a.html