Content Usability: How Users Read Online
The usability of Web content should be a top consideration when determining what materials to use on your website. The way users read online plays a major factor in determining the usability of Web content. According to research, online users do not read Web content in the same way they read printed material. Because of this, website owners need to develop content that is easy to read, appeals to online users, and concisely packages unique information.
How Users Read Online
Most online experts agree that the majority of online users don’t read every word of online content. Instead, users scan each page looking for relevant information. How can you be sure that readers will get your message? By breaking information up into manageable chunks and providing clear subheading that describe what each section is about, websites are much better able to convey a message to Web users.
What information are Web users scanning for? Online users don’t want to sort through long paragraphs of dry text. Instead, they are looking for concise bits of information conveyed in a clear, brief, and visually appealing way. The following are just a few types of content for which users scan:
-Highlighted terms, which may include bold, italic and hyperlinked phrases.
-Bulleted lists that provided quick, useful information and tips.
-Subheadings that clearly describe what each segment of text is about.
Why Do Web Users Scan?
When making the transition from printed material to online media, many wonder exactly why online users scan text rather than read. There are a number of possibilities that may explain this phenomenon. First, reading text on a computer screen causes greater eye fatigue and slows down reading. Users try to minimize difficulty by reading online text selectively, choosing only the information that seems relevant and substantive.
The interactive nature of the Internet may also play a role in why users choose to scan instead of read online information. Unlike many other forms of media, the Internet allows users to take action and control their experience. Readers do not want to waste time on bulky websites. By streamlining content and providing valuable information, readers will be much more likely to read your Web content.
How to Write for the Web
In order to increase content usability, it is important to learn how to write for the Web. Online users are looking for concise information that is highly informative, factual, and free of marketing hype. Good writing plays a key role in establishing the credibility and legitimacy of your website as a valuable resource.
The following are a few tips that will increase content usability and keep your viewers reading:
-Present the main idea right away. Online readers don not want to wait and are likely to look elsewhere if your key ideas are not present immediately. Start each paragraph with a clear idea and use descriptive subheadings throughout your writing.
-Organize online content carefully. The same principles that apply to printed materials are still important on the Web. Consider your audience, their level of expertise, and what they might be search for. Organizing your writing to ensure clarity and readability will greatly enhance the user-experience and keep readers on your website.
-Know your topic. The quality of your content is just as important as the presentation, so be careful to check facts, figures, and other reference information. Web users are increasingly savvy about judging the credibility of websites. By presenting the best content in a highly readable format, readers will be more likely to recognize your site as a helpful source.