Notes regarding Patrick Lynch

The following thoughts are just initial reactions to my first read-through. I plan on reading this over again--and giving the writers more credit (once I actually sit down to write my actual piece next week).

I want to believe that I don't subconsciously consider all of these things when I'm reading. I want to believe it's the content that matters.
However, I'm aware that a great portion of cognitive activity is involuntary. And yes, design/placement/etc. matters--especially when it comes to web design. There's obviously been tons of research done on this subject (the reference section at the end of this book is pretty extensive). I'm not disputing that.

This sentence kind of bothered me: "...users easily lose their sense of context when the navigational buttons or major links are not visible..." Is this article not an example of a long web page without navigational buttons? I don't lose my sense of context when I'm reading something like this. I read through this article without any problems. I get it. How is it any different than reading a chapter of a book or something? People read long passages all of the time--both because they have to and want to. It's part of the reading experience. On and off of the web. This sentence basically insinuates that everyone has short term memory loss (I actually DO, by the way--thanks to drug abuse when I was younger--and reading longer articles/content on web pages [or in books, for that matter] is not usually a problem for me).

I'm aware of what they're getting at: The modern person has a short attention span--thanks to social media/instant communication/etc. However, I feel like they're not giving 'context' a fair chance. I feel like people can choose to pay attention and stay with something if they truly want to. How else does one graduate from a university?

I guess my biggest question after reading this is: Are people really this predictable? Are people collectively so terrible at paying attention? I know some people are--but is everyone? I'd like to think that I'm not.

In Regards to Egglectic Interests

There seems to be a problem with this link...

In Regards to 'Don't Make Me Read!'

This article touches on a lot of what is mentioned in the first (reading habits, the difference between reading text on a web page and reading text on a printed page, modern attention span, etc).

Once again, 'context' is a major factor. This is especially apparent when looking at the Before and After comparisons at the end of the article--in which long, descriptive paragraphs are condensed into a small number of sentences. In the context of web text, short sentences are the only way to go (according to web designers). According to them, people will NOT STAND for a well-written, descriptive paragraph that in no way insults their intelligence.

I agree with cutting unnecessary words out, and shortening lengthy statements that might seem long-winded. However, I feel like complete sentences (and complete thoughts, for that matter) can still have their place in web writing/web design.

These articles kind of seem like those 'How To Write Fiction' books--being that they relate to the reader that there is only one formula for a successful book (in our case, a successful website). And the formula is based on how people don't want to read. I really don't want to believe this.

How would sites like Amazon fit into all of this? When I am going to spend money on something expensive, I purposely search for the most well-written, long-winded testimonials (which are listed AT THE BOTTOM of the page--along with all of the other RELEVANT information [such as: where the product is actually being sold from, a more in depth description of the product, etc]). I do this because I trust what a person says more so than a golden banner above an item's picture that says "Best Seller". This is an instance where a paragraph is more useful than a couple of words.

I'm really interested in seeing the actual data of all of these 'studies' being done regarding modern human attention spans/reading habits/etc.

In Regards to Long Vs. Short Articles

I automatically admire this article more than the others--mostly because of the section near the end titled "Mathematical Models Vs. Real Life". Just by admitting that people cannot be simply summed up via research/statistics/models, Nielson made my day. If I could see him in person, I'd give him a high five.

I very much appreciate how he works around the idea of 'context' (which is important in the other articles--but not properly addressed)--specifically when he mentions the 'foods that kill you' analogy. Short articles appeal to those who are healthy and just want to make sure they avoid those foods. Long articles appeal to those who are ridden with a disease (possibly a disease caused by the foods mentioned in the article) and desperately want to know as much as possible about the subject. This is a marvelous distinction--one that is missing in all of the previous articles. Real world application.

In Regards to '4 Cases'

This is a more balanced, practical article than the first couple. The message is similar to that of 'Long vs. Short': IT DEPENDS. This is explored further in a corresponding article (which is shared via a link at the end of the article): "Copywriting: Long copy vs. short copy matrix".

It's important to note that specific cases were chosen to prove a point (and only 4 of them, to be exact). This article is not meant to be an all-encompassing 'answer' to the question (Which is better? Long or short?). Instead, it just focuses on instances where shorter is better. However, it is also related to the reader that there are most definitely instances when longer is better. Once again, context is acknowledged.

Overall thoughts

Hopefully, if you're a web designer/web content writer, you're aware enough of your audience to make a well-informed decision regarding 'long' or 'short'. There's no singular right answer. The world is not black and white. People are not all the same. So a lot of this speculation seems pointless. It's like arguing with your spouse about how you're going spend your millions IF you win the Powerball. Not the best analogy. But you get it.
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