What Web Users Hate Part 3: Reading

June 16, 2006 at 9:56 am 3 comments

 This final point from Sandra Rossi's article, "What Users Hate About Websites", that I feel is relevant to knowledge sharing systems is one that really drives me crazy!

5. War and Peace length: "A common mistake in Web design is to just [convert] a brochure to the Web. But the Web is its own medium, and communication has to change to reach users. Users are known to read 25 percent slower on the screen than on paper, read fewer words and don't like long pages which require scrolling down," she said.

This is not applicable to OPACS, as it does not fit their function. It is a danger to libraries creating home pages. However, I will credit librarians with seeming to know not to throw long pieces at their users. However, websites by librarians for librarians do sometimes violate this issue.

Many organizations, MPOW for one, are still struggling to transition from print to online writing. Many writers do address the various audiences by using the appropriate terms (parents, teachers, chemists, members, etc.). However, if there are legal issues the lawyers often won't allow them to reword things in the level appropriate for the general public. ARGH! In this case, I know the writers are not at fault and simply try to avoid having to rewrite things to please the lawyers. Thus, lawyers need some writing and usability training.

Many professionals (librarians included) seem to forget, or do not realize, that publications targeted for the general public are written at a sixth grade level for a reason. Bemoaning the state of education and lack of reading does nothing to reach these users. Even users who are highly intelligent appreciate a more friendly voice.

Scrolling for a lengthy piece is not user friendly. Throwing a PDF or other attached document at the user is not user friendly. Why should I have to use my computer resources to open your information? Reading something written in a formal voice is boring and sends the users elsewhere.


Entry filed under: Intranets, Knowledge Management, User Interface, Web Design.

What Web Users Hate Part 2: Scanning the Site Two way communication — a company that gets it

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Chris  |  June 27, 2006 at 5:49 am

    Why should I have to use my computer resources to open your information?

    Aren’t you already doing so by using a browser and a modem to reach the page? Or is it the delay in opening the PDF reader that is the issue?

  • 2. Kelly G  |  June 27, 2006 at 2:16 pm

    It is
    ~the delay in opening the PDF reader
    ~PDF files tend to be larger than HTML/XTHML files –if you are on a slow band width that is important
    ~the fact that the writer is using an application on my computer to open their content (that is, I must have Adobe Acrobat Reader)

    I think though, that the use of PDFs shows a need for control that is not in alignment with much of the web culture.

    Don’t get me wrong, PDFs are fabulous tools to share and edit preprint docs. They can be fabulous if you want to display a sample of some work you did offline. If I created a brochure, I will want complete control in order to dispay it faithfully

    Thanks for the comment! 🙂
    But, if the idea is to exchange ideas and thoughts, then design control is actually distracting.

  • 3. Wynter  |  August 17, 2006 at 11:23 am

    No one who knows anything uses a PDF. PDF is the world’s biggest copout. It’s just a giant image file. Get in the CSS grove and add indention and margins to text.


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