Appearance is everything initially
There are a couple of considerations when constructing a site or article for the web: consistent navigation and attractive design.
Navigation consists of internal links. Some appear as a group of choices at the top of the page, navigation bars, while others are presented as menus or links within the main text. Web Style Guide recommends consistent navigation because a user could click a link on another site and access a page other than the main page of that destination. Without clear, consistent navigation users may be confused and leave; never to return.
No Clown Pants - Carroll.
Clowns can almost always be found at the circus. Their boisterous outfits are perfect there, but would be appalling for anyone to wear to a business meeting or work function. Endless pok-a-dots and clearly mismatched, supremely bright colors are not acceptable attire in most situations; think Dumb and Dumber tuxedos. The same is true for web content. If a site is overloaded with unmatched or overly aggressive coloration or design, there is a high possibility users will only glance and move on. The goal is making content not only relevant but also creating a page that is inviting.
Professionalism is the main source of credibility
Subheadings: to read or not to read
Subheadings serve as previews for content and help create a scanable page. Users are looking for something specific when browsing a site like a wiki and subheadings provide an opportunity to quickly scan for the information. This helps solidify a positive user experience and continued use of the site.
Business Wordsmith explains there are three ways to use subheadings effectively: tell a story, build excitement, or use as pointers to useful information. In the same article "Formatting Your Web Copy For Today's Short Attention Span," Sid Smith shows that many users may only read the subheadings. He formulates the idea that perhaps subheadings are the best way to make a point. Subheadings are the page piece that will get the idea out there and be given the most attention.
3 Seconds, that is all
Carroll states in his book that users give a site 3 seconds before deciding to stay or move on. That time includes how long it takes a page to load as well as what the user is able to take in. If a page takes 2 seconds or even just 1 to load, then writers only have an iota of time to persuade a prolonged engagement. Content must be specifically and intentionally formatted for the screen to create a following.
Credibility through external links and support
Support for an argument is the most important element when establishing credibility. Support is created within a site with internal links to other pages. Credibility and external support are found by linking to information on external sites. Writers must be careful to make sure external and internal links are working. Otherwise, credibility is dealt a major blow.
Jason Fry's article, "Maximizing the values of the link: Credibility, readability, connectivity" has a quote from Matthew Ingram: "I think not including links (which a surprising number of web writers still don't) is in many cases a sign of intellectual cowardice. What it says is the writer is unprepared to have his or her ideas tested..." He was responding to another contemporary's article that suggested too much linking within the body of a text is taking place online and contributing to "online ADD." Ingram's argument suggests that by linking to other sites, credibility is assured through intellectual comparison and conversation.
- "Writing for Digital Media."
- "Interface Design"
- "Formatting Your Web Copy For Today's Short Attention Span"
- "Maximizing the values of the link: Credibility, readability, connectivity"
- Carroll, Brian. Writing for Digital Media. Routledge; New York, 2010.
- Lynch, Patrick, Sarah Horton. "Interface Design." WebStyleGuide. Web. 2011.
- Fry, Jason. "Maximizing the values of the link: Credibility, readability, connectivity." Harvard University. Nieman Journalism Lab. Web. 2010.
- Smith, Sid. "Formatting Your Web Copy For Today's Short Attention Span." Business Wordsmith. Web. 2012.