“Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.”– William Strunk Jr., in Elements of Style
Content is the most important part of a Web site. If the content does not provide the information needed by users, the Web site will provide little value no matter how easy it is to use the site.
When preparing prose content for a Web site, use familiar words and avoid the use of jargon. If acronyms and abbreviations must be used, ensure that they are clearly understood by typical users and defined on the page.
Minimize the number of words in a sentence and sentences in a paragraph. Make the first sentence (the topic sentence) of each paragraph descriptive of the remainder of the paragraph. Clearly state the temporal sequence of instructions. Also, use upper- and lowercase letters appropriately, write in an affirmative, active voice, and limit prose text on navigation pages.
Research-Based Web Design & Usability Guidelines
Make Action Sequences Clear
Guideline: When describing an action or task that has a natural order or sequence (assembly instructions, troubleshooting, etc.), structure the content so that the sequence is obvious and consistent.
Comments: Time-based sequences are easily understood by users.
Do not force users to perform or learn tasks in a sequence that is unusual
Sources: Czaja and Sharit, 1997; Farkas, 1999; Krull and Watson, 2002; Morkes and Nielsen, 1998; Nielsen, 2000; Smith and Mosier, 1986; Wright, 1977.
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