By Michael E. Mortenson
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A number of usability experts have conducted tests with users and come up with conclusions about the most usable way to write and organize text for the web. Write to Be Scanned Several classic site usability studies by Dr. Jakob Nielsen, usability engineer and information architect, discovered that many users don’t read web sites; rather, they scan them for the information they need. Later studies have conﬁrmed that 80% of users scan web sites. (Koyani, Baile, Hall). To write effectively for these scanners, Nielsen suggests in The Alertbox: How Users Read on the Web that web writers use: • highlighted keywords (hypertext links serve as one form of highlighting; typeface variations and color are others) • meaningful subheadings (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 and most important information • half the word count (or less) than in conventional writing These concepts are particularly true on the ﬁrst couple of levels of a web site or multimedia program where users are trying to ﬁnd the information they want.
Information is posted on a regular basis, usually with the newest information coming ﬁrst. Some blogs are restricted to one person or a set number of individuals, but many blogs are public so that anyone can add information and respond to earlier comments. Blogs are often used for noncommercial expression about a wide range of topics with current events, politics, and business among the most popular, but some commercial sites are starting to use blogs as a way to present news, PR information, and customer service.
What if players get the telephone number from having played the game earlier, and they then jump ahead to the telephone scene? What should happen when they dial? Should they get a busy signal? What if they dial the number after they have gotten it legally in the game, but they don’t have all the information they need, such as knowing that the one who answers is their uncle? Should the writer give them different information in the message? What if they dial the operator? What if they try dialing random numbers?