Creating Effective Webpages

  1. Be concise. Reading from screen is 25% slower than reading from print.

  2. Users do not like to scroll. Provide essential information on the initial page, perhaps adding a Table of Contents with links to appropriate sections on the pages. Move detailed information to secondary pages.

  3. Write for scannability. Most Web readers scan pages for relevant information rather than reading through a document word by word. Use these tricks:

    • Subheadings (meaningful, not "clever" ones)

    • Bulleted lists rather than paragraphs, if appropriate

    • Highlighted keywords via
      • hypertext links
      • typeface variations

    • Short paragraphs, one idea per paragraph with first few words catching attention of reader

    • Inverted pyramid style, starting with the conclusion. Put the main points of your document in the first paragraph, so that readers scanning your pages will not miss your point

    • Simple writing style, half the word count (or less) than conventional writing. Use simple sentence structures. Convoluted writing and complex words are even harder to understand online

    • Avoid "marketese", promotional writing style with boastful subjective claims. Give the straight facts without exaggeration

  4. Limit graphics to shorten load time. If using images, use small inline images and link large versions to small thumbnails. Use image compression available with the JPEG format - 50% looks OK.

  5. If your page is going to be posted on the Library websites, please conform to the colors of background and font used on Library Web pages.

  6. Review and update your page frequently to ensure accuracy and credibility. Links need to be working. Statistics, numbers, and examples should be recent.

  7. Documents are easier to print from a single Web page. Don't break your narrative into small segments if users will be printing the information. If usage is difficult to predict, offer both a Web version and a link to an easy-to-print page or printing alternative (e.g., PDF file).

  8. Refrain from using excessive linking. Readers should not have to follow links to gain an understanding of the information. Links are for those who wish to pursue the topic further. Too many links can disrupt narrative flow in several ways:

    • Visual distraction - Users will click on links directly without ever reading the text that forms its context.

    • Disruption of narrative - Users may follow links and never return to your site.

    • Lack of context - Readers move into unfamiliar territory and may become frustrated and bewildered.

  9. Avoid using abbreviations or acronyms unfamiliar to the general user.

  10. Adhere to copyright restrictions that apply to both graphics and text.

  11. Use the active rather than passive voice in your writing.


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 Content Revised: February 6, 2014


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