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How Users Read on the Web 

They don't. People rarely read Web pages word by word; instead, they scan the page, picking out individual words and sentences.

In a recent study, 79 percent of test users always scanned any new page they came across; only 16 percent read word-by-word.

As a result, Web pages have to employ scannable text, using :
  • highlighted keywords (hypertext links serve as one form of highlighting; typeface variations and color are others)
  • meaningful sub-headings (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.
  • half the word count (or less) than conventional writing
Credibility is important for Web users, since it is unclear who is behind information on the Web and whether a page can be trusted. Credibility can be increased by high-quality graphics, good writing, and use of outbound hypertext links. Links to other sites show that the authors have done their homework and are not afraid to let readers visit other sites.

Users detested "marketese"; the promotional writing style with boastful subjective claims ("hottest ever") that currently is prevalent on the Web.

Web users are busy: they want to get the straight facts. Also, credibility suffers when users clearly see that the site exaggerates.
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