Friday, April 17, 2009

Two Word Warning:: Grabbing Attention in 11 Characters

I saw several Tweets {e.g., @halvorson} on a Jakob Nielsen post on usability, discussing how users "scan" lists and the first 11 characters are crucial.
"...people read the first few listed items somewhat thoroughly — thus the cross-bars of the "F" — but read less and less as they continue down the list, eventually passing their eyes down the text's left side in a fairly straight line. At this point, users see only the very beginning of the items in a list.

On Web and intranet pages, lists occur in many places, including:
  • Search engine results pages (SERP)
  • Lists of current or archived articles, headlines, press releases, and other news items
  • Product listings on category pages
  • Table of contents (ToC) listings
  • Question lists that serve as ToCs at the top of FAQ (frequently asked questions) pages
  • Bulleted or numbered lists, checklists, task steps on a help page or job aid, etc."
I don't always buy Jakob Nielson's take on things.  I think he has some good points about being judicious about content and making sure it's relevant.  He tends to lose me with his rationale when he makes prescriptions.  He offers up these guidelines, which make sense::
  • Use plain language
  • Use specific terminology
  • Follow conventions for naming common features
  • Front-load user- and action-oriented terms
I did a search with the objective of trying to see if my ASA group blog, ThickCulture, showed up.  I used the terms:: "Web 2.0" culture sociology blog. 
The above hit was 9th in the results, referring to my post on Twitter & language.  The results show that there is some SEO to do, in order to improve search results.  Using white hat means, of course.  One of the things that I found was the description metatags needs some work.  The default "Just another weblog" needs to be replaced.  Plus, there are no keywords, but that's not mission critical.  More on this topic in future posts.

Image::  World Usability Day 2006 Graphic (11/14/06).  On

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