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Trigger words makes users dig into a site

According to Jared Spool, users browse websites using a Move-Forward-Until-Found Rule:

"...a web page can do only one of two things: either it contains the content the user wants or it contains the links to get them to the content they want. If a page doesn't follow this rule, then the users stop clicking..."

Trigger words is what makes users dig in to a site - words that contain the essential elements that provide the motivation to continue with the site.

In a study where the test participants were first interviewed about what they hoped to find on a number of large websites, UIE found that when the participants were successful in finding their target content, the words that they used in the interview appeared 72% of the time on the site's front page. When they where unsuccessful, their words appeared only 6% of the time.

UIE also found that when the participants didn't find any trigger words, they were far more likely to use the site's search function.


  • The article The Right Trigger Words Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - December 13, 2004

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See also: Navigation (56)  Links (15)  Research (103) 



Effects of margins and leading on reading performance

SURL has studied reading performance with four layouts using different margins and leading (space between lines). The results showed that the layouts with margins improved comprehension of the texts, but made reading speed slower. Leading didn't have any significant effect on reading performance. Users favored the layout with margins and high leading, because they found it easier to read.


  • The article Reading Online Text: A Comparison of Four White Space Layouts Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - August 01, 2004

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See also: Web page design (31)  Research (103) 



Readability analyser

At you can analyse the readability of text and ascertain a multitude of scores and statistic based on common readability formats. The tool can analyse web pages and Word documents.


  • The online readability analyser at Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - May 21, 2004

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Web writing that works

Jonathan and Lisa Price, authors of the book Hot Text, have set up a website with loads of tips on how to write for the web. Among the good stuff are their guidelines, their advice on how to write within common genres (such as FAQ's, step-by-step procedures, and customer assistance), and an evaluation tool to measure the quality of your own writing. You'll also find lots of sample chapters from their book spread around the site.


  • The site Web Writing That Works! Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - April 26, 2004

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Optimal line length on monitors

Dr. Bob Bailey has looked at the literature about optimal line length when reading from a monitor: "What can we conclude when users are reading prose text from monitors? Users tend to read faster if the line lengths are longer (up to 10 inches). If the line lengths are too short (2.5 inches or less) it may impede rapid reading. Finally, users tend to prefer lines that are moderately long (4 to 5 inches)."


  • The article Optimal Line Length: Research Supporting Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - June 01, 2003

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See also: Research (103)  Web page design (31) 



How to write informative blurbs

Dennis G. Jerz teaches us how to write blurbs:

"On the web, a blurb is a line or short paragraph (20-50 words) that evaluates (or at least summarizes) what the reader will find at the other end of a link. A good blurb should inform, not tease."

According to Jerz, good blurbs can:
- Help people navigate a site by describing content at the other end of a link
- Help people decide whether to invest time in clicking on associated links

Some guidelines:
- Be informative and don't just tease people
- Don't use hyperbole language
- Describe, summarize and/or give a sample of what's to be found at the other side of the link
- By evaluating the content you help people determine the value of the information


  • Blurbs: Writing Previews of Web Pages Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - April 01, 2003

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See also: Tips and guidelines (80) 



Customer Focus Calculator - We We Monitor

As proud as a company may be of itself and its product or service, most customers only care about how well it can help them meet their wants and needs.

To help you answer whether a site is talking mostly about themselves or their customers needs, FurureNow has developed an analysis tool that counts certain words on a site that are key indicators of whether focus is on the customer or not.


  • The Customer Focus Calculator We We Monitor Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - October 21, 2002

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A comparison of popular online fonts

Michael Bernard (et al.) has examined reading speed, perception of legibility, and preference of the most popular fonts used on the web. The study showed that:

- There was no significant difference in legibility between the fonts studied at 10-, 12- and 14-point sizes
- Generally Times and Arial was faster in reading time than Courier, Schoolbook, and Georgia
- Arial, Courier, and Georgia were perceived as the most legible fonts
- Verdana was the most preferred font, while Times was the least preferred

The authors conclude that Verdana appears to be the best overall font choice. Besides being the most preferred, it was read fairly quickly and was perceived as being legible.


  • The article A Comparison of Popular Online Fonts: Which Size and Type is Best? Open link in new window
  • The article A Comparison of Popular Online Fonts: Which is Best and When? Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - October 14, 2002

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See also: Research (103) 



Get rid of the 90's bloated content

Something that really annoys me is arrogant and egocentric corporate content on web sites, such as bloated talk telling you "We are the best", ridiculous mission statements and flashy stock photography.

According to Susan Solomon from ClickZ this is a left over from the 90's. Today customers don't fall for boast like "We're powerful, we're Magnificent, we're Omnipotent." They want to know how they can benefit, and they want facts, figures and testimonials to feel confident that a company will get the job done.

I'm just afraid that this isn't just a 90's phenomenon, but rather a widespread CEO defect.


  • The article Tuning Out 'That 90's Show' Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - April 23, 2002

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See also: Tips and guidelines (80) 

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