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 13:22 |

Remarks on Text Typology (Part 3): An Advertisement Does Not Necessarily Have to Look Like an Advertisement

An interesting suggestion that one should have in mind, however, has been made by Book recommendation / advertisement: Buy this book at amazon.com/.co.uk/.de! Halliday & Hasan (1989). The authors explain within their chapter on the identity of a text that a text’s generic form (e.g. the one of a letter) may be dissociated from its generic function (e.g. an advertisement).

2007-11-05 07:45 | ,

What Else Do we Know About the Human Factors on the Web?

Throughout my linguistic considerations on Web texts so far, I already pointed out that users of Web sites can have very different contexts when accessing the information that is given. As a consequence, we must expect that visitors may have many different levels of reader interest in our Web texts. “Every person has a certain level of interest in every piece of information. A writer should help each reader to get their desired level of information as quickly as possible.” (Wallace 1999)

2007-10-18 16:30 | ,

From Linguistics to Human Factors

Up to this point, I have shed light on many different aspects of Web texts from a linguistic and communicative point of view. I have explained that a modern approach towards text linguistics has a broader conception of a particular piece of language; consequently, an author must also consider the context of the intended discourse that a text shall be part of. According to the communicative dilemma of written texts, the context in which a text shall be understood must be given in the text.

2007-09-28 08:56 | ,


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 09:47 |

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