Make Me Think About Length Notes

"The more vital way of looking at this is to think about the connections between the (reading) length of a text and web affordances that allow writers to change length and semantic density."

Web Style Guide 3

Page Width and Line Length
-based on human eye•retina/macula= high visual acuity
◦macula= small (width of well-designed column of text- 12 words/line)
•reading slows as line lengths begin to exceed ideal width.
•impossible to control because of browser text size- can enlarge or decrease
◦universal usability offers great solution to line-length prob
-4 Factors: Page size & screen size, content of docs, reader browse or print/download, bandwidth avail. to aud.

I like that you can zoom in and out of your laptop or phone simply by pinching the screen (if you have a touchscreen) Usually the mouse on the laptop has a zoom feature too. I've noticed that sometimes it's difficult though because if you zoom in the text size will increase but the lines across the pages are so long you have to scroll sideways and that can be even easier to lose your spot than scrolling downwards. I really do agree with chunking. I think it's much easier to read something that is chunked in a way that's easy to skim across the subheadings.

Long Web Pages
-disorientation from scrolling
-home pages, menus help, long webpages= too much scrolling (super ironic because I’m at work right now taking notes with no wifi. Which means that I had to load these web-pages I’m taking notes on prior to work. This particular website has one long page to scroll on-which is exactly what it lectured against. It’s working in my favor though since I can’t load any other pages bc of no wifi
Easier for creators to org. and users to download, useful for pages that will be printed off
For Best of Both Worlds:
-Chunking (no more than 2 printed pages worth of info, hypertext links)
-provide link to separate file that contains full-length text combined as one page designed for printing
-“jump to top” buttons at reg. intervals This webpage has a colored jump to the top button which was nice because it had a lot of scrolling and links. The chunking was ON POINT

HUGE FAN OF CHUNKING. I really enjoy web pages that have the jump to the top option. I found that some sites have this option on phones but not on laptops. Hmmm... I also looked up "scroll to top button" and there was options for free downloads for a scroll to top button for any kind of webpage.

Page Headers and Footers
-web page is not just a visual experience- it has to be efficient for appeal to user
-efficiency determined by # of options available for readers top 6 inches of page
-use a template/ consistent with header/ easy to navigate
-header: logo/ navigation
-footer- basic data about origin, age, links to other pages, essential data (perhaps like publishing date, etc. that you would need to make a works cited)

I really like when they have all of the information that's needed for a works cited page at the bottom of a page. I've noticed- especially in blogs that they sometimes don't have this valuable information! How do you site something if that info isn't there?

Vertical Stratification in Web Pages
-above the fold to capture average user, print design can have the reader turn the page and see not only the whole next page but the two page spread- print design. •web design cannot emulate this yet bc regardless of how large the display screen is the reader still only sees on page at a time. Even a large display screen only displays as much info as found in a small mag. Spread.
-scrolling/ the fold is really cool. Amazing how they calculate it!

Web Writing Part 3: Cut the extra words, less really is more

-ummm apparently not with a title like this lol
-cut 50% when writing for the screen? –I don’t agree.
-Easier to scan?
-Write long to start- trim later•decide to “flesh it out” or “leave it short”. Or chunk it. If none work, arrange for printing (Adobe Acrobat)
-Simple sent. , short parag., long paragraphs encourage skipping over (idk if this is true either)
-keep related items together in parags but feel free to add breaks whenever needed
-cut transitional phrases (secondly, another point to consider, etc)
-use bullet lists
-don’t use words just to be using words (actual good advice in my opinion)

This is such a weird topic for me... I love words. I love beautiful flowery poetic language. I don't care if it's on a screen!!!! Give it to me! However... it is much more difficult to read on the web so I see where cutting out the flowery language can be better. I still want to argue everytime this topic comes up though! However, I will respect that the experts know best.

Dead Phrases
-are zombies – they eat at the reader’s brain !
-“it goes without saying” and “needless to say” … “before I get started” … “first”

I realized that I use these a LOT shoot. Just looked back at some of my blog posts and almost every single one starts out with some kind of dead phrase.

Cut Any Paper-Based Text by 50%
-people read 25% slower on the computer, distracted by ads, blurry screen… Nielson suggest 50% less text
-fewer text= less reading
-people use text to put off reading. “menus, headings, search results”
-text is like signs, readers brainpower will determine if they actually consider your ideas.
-reading is tougher than text (I guess I never knew the difference before this) I thought you read text! I’m getting the feeling (oops just used a dead phrase) that text is titles/ headings/ intro sentences
-paper wants more text- on screen wants less
-take several whacks at your text. Trim off the fat- but save the meaning
-cut: really, truly, unnecessary details, phrases, pompous b.s., jargon

I really like when websites have USEFUL meus and headings. If they're not useful please get rid of them. Some of these article headings seemed pretty ironic (oops just used pretty which I definitely didn't need to use here) because they weren't necessarily useful.

Audience Fit
-To have fun: 500 words or less
-To Learn: Relevant. Spiked
-To Act: Tell me what to do. Let me do it
-To Be Aware: Parables aka short
-To Get Close To People: don’t ramble it’s annoying•I really like this advice! I think it's important and I know "The ill-informed way to go at this question is by thinking there is a normative length. How long is a novel? How long should a blog post be? What's the best length for a sentence? Where does the wind go when it's not blowing? The more vital way of looking at this is to think about the connections between the (reading) length of a text and web affordances that allow writers to change length and semantic density.

OPINION: Maybe a good way of doing this would be strategic chunking with using headers and titles in front of all for easy skimming/cutting. I know when I'm reading something on the web/or taking notes on something I'll occasionally copy and paste out "chunks" onto a new doc. to print. This is easy to do if it's already chunked for me. It's also easier to read on any kind of browser if it's chunked appropriately.

Long Vs Short Articles as Content Strategy
-info foraging shows how to calc. content strategy's costs and benefits. Mixed diet combines brief overviews and comprehensive coverage cost at best.
-how much info is enough? How much is too much? How much is optimal?
-Info foraging- •diet selection- modeling tool that tells us what articles users will read
◦people decided what to consume in a way that optimizes their benefits relative to the costs.
◦ cost/benefit ratio is what matters- not benefit alone. Long article might contain more info but if it takes too long to read, readers will abandon the website.

Cost/Benefit Metrics for Reading

-cost : easy to model: we calculate it as the amount of TIME it takes to read an article•indirect cost bc users aren't paid to surf the web but their time is valuable
-benefit: benefit units that represent values from online info•B2B users researching a company purchase - benefits translate directly into dollars (they represent the extent to which the company gets a better deal/ decides to buy a better product as result of that user's time on the Web)
• Home Users: benefits might have a dollar value- ex: buying airline ticket (checking more sites would be av. saving in airfare resulted from using a richer data set to decide ticket to buy)

This is kind of confusing. Still don't really understand this. How about sites that have multiple airlines/or comparison sites?
-Example: Long vs Short Articles•Short Articles: 600 words (under 3 min.)

•Long Articles: 1,000 words (5 min. to read)
•people prefer to read short articles (I would too)

Benefits of Cutting Word Counts
Good editor should be able to cut 40% of word count while removing only 30% of article's value
•cuts should target least valuable info
-What You Should Do:•If you want a lot of readers: focus on short and scannable content
• If you want people who need a solution: focus on comprehensive coverage
-Hypertext•short and long treatments within single hyperspace
• link to in-depth coverage

Conclusion: This is a really confusing article. I have never really been good with any kind of analytical or quantitative information so this article has been hard to get a handle on- even after reading it twice!

4 Cases Where Short Home Pages Outperformed Long Home Pages

-okay first of all... this fb/twitter/other places to share tab on the side was annoying! I couldn't get it to go away and it blocked the text. Okay had to get that out... now on to notes.

-Case #1 Moto Message: To get more people to take a tour of their service (text marketing software)•the shorter and more condensed version landed much more people
-Case #2: Design Boost: like Codeschool for designers (there's online courses that teach you to design kickass mobile apps, landing pages, more Photoshop)
-Case #3 Pipedrive: Sales pipeline management tool, a kind of CRM•shorter webpages make a 300% increase in signups
-Case #4: ConversationXL
I'm starting to see a trend here.... SHORTER IS SO MUCH BETTER ! (according to this and every other webpage I've read so far)
•Why? Short attention spans, people want to get straight to the point

• Long better? Maybe if it's the right content- it all depends on content
-When is Short Better?: Short pages are better when they don't ask for $ (sign up, email, free trial etc.)
-Things that affect: visitor motivation, initial level of anxiety about product/company, level of cost/commitment•short copy performs better when there is low perceived risk, low cost, low commitment
• but always make two and test them out! See which one is better

QUESTION: What happens to exposition if advice about length is followed? What happens to the relation between writer and reader? In fact, when we escape the marking fluff, is the advice really followed? Or, rather, when is it followed?

The meaning will stay the same (but in my opinion the beauty will disappear). The writer and reader become like the corgs in machine. The writer puts info out. The reader consumes it. The reader may benefit because it's straight to the point. The writer may be payed from people who put their ads on the page (or not). Just remember- sites that have shorter homepages are more successful. Marketing fluff in commercial sites is deadly. It makes the reader on high alert. I think that it all depends on the purpose of the site? How is the site supposed to make you feel? What is the site supposed to make you do? If it's to inform, let it inform. If it's to inspire, take this advice with a grain of salt.

My Muddled Recommendations

  1. If you're writing for the web (on the web reading) use short lines. I'm not sure of a perfectly specific length but try to make it readable. Test it out on different devices because something that looks readable on a laptop might not be anywhere else. Also, use easy to read font. Don't use some crazy calligraphy font! That'll kill your readers eyes.
  2. Use the chunking technique! However, use it in the correct way. Chunk things in a logical way. Have information that goes together in chunks. If a paragraph that all goes together is getting way to long still goes together forget the statement above and chunk it anyway.
  3. Have a short and concise home page for your site. No matter what site, it's better to have a smaller more concise home page. It looks cleaner and you WILL get more views. GREAT EXAMPLE:
  4. Know you purpose and follow through with it. What is the purpose of your online publication/ article/ site? Is it to sell something? Download PDFS? Chat with friends? Make sure that the design and length meets the purpose. If you are starting an online chat forum it would be a good idea to have a "scroll to the top" button- because people can get lost reading all of those strings of comments-- I know! Make sure that it's easy to navigate.
  5. Let your readers see headers, footers, and titles. Basically, don't waste their time. If they don't want to read the whole article, let them know that by simply reading the header.
  6. Cut the b.s. Don't make your readers go blind. Shorten phrases if it makes sense to. Don't waste their precious time reading on the web. If they want to read a huge article have a downloadable PDF version for them available.

I read these articles the first pass on my laptop. I read the second pass on my phone at work (AND IT SUCKED) The third read was read from a printed off version. I think I might print from the get-go next time because it is certainly easier. However, I do like being able to copy and paste ideas from the text straight to the wiki. I read most of the text sitting down at a table and when I was reading on my phone I was sitting in a recliner at work.

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