How to Keep Web Texts Short (Part 1): The Content Level

Different studies on Web usability have found out that Web users don’t want to read long texts because reading from screens is somewhat slower than reading from paper and maybe even painful to the eye, and because reading hypertext entails additional cognitive efforts. Consequently, I have defined succinctness to be a key to effective communication through Web texts, which appears to be in line with the literature on Web usability and Web linguistics. Likewise, the design of Web sites may sometimes limit the space that is primed for a particular text occurrence. For that reason, an author will have to keep texts short as well. In the following, I shall introduce a few approaches from literature in order to manage keeping Web texts short. The ideas given in the first posting to this problem will mainly concern the content level; solutions of how to keep sentences short will be presented in a second posting.

2007-11-23 14:22 |


The most important characteristic of the Web in general, and – at the same time – the Web’s foundation and materialisation is its ‘hypertext’ structure. In order to define hypertext, the simplest way is to contrast it with traditional texts, as e.g. my M.A. thesis. Reading this paper means that there is “a single linear sequence defining the order in which the text is to be read” (Nielsen 1995, p 1), that is from chapter 1 to chapter 5. “Hypertext is non-sequential; there is no single order that determines the sequence […].” (Nielsen 1995, p 1)

2007-09-25 10:47 |

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