Reading study results

John Morkes and Jakob Nielsen (1997). Concise, SCANNABLE, and Objective: How to Write for the Web. http://www.useit.com/papers/webwriting/writing.html

Site Version

Sample Paragraph

Usability Improvement

(relative to control condition)

Promotional writing (control condition) using the "marketese" found on many commercial websites

Nebraska is filled with internationally recognized attractions that draw large crowds of people every year, without fail. In 1996, some of the most popular places were Fort Robinson State Park (355,000 visitors), Scotts Bluff National Monument (132,166), Arbor Lodge State Historical Park & Museum (100,000), Carhenge (86,598), Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer (60,002), and Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park (28,446).

0%
(by definition)

Concise text
with about half the word count as the control condition

In 1996, six of the best-attended attractions in Nebraska were Fort Robinson State Park, Scotts Bluff National Monument, Arbor Lodge State Historical Park & Museum, Carhenge, Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer, and Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park.

58%

Scannable layout
using the same text as the control condition in a layout that facilitated scanning

Nebraska is filled with internationally recognized attractions that draw large crowds of people every year, without fail.

In 1996, some of the most popular places were:

  • Fort Robinson State Park (355,000 visitors)
  • Scotts Bluff National Monument (132,166)
  • Arbor Lodge State Historical Park & Museum (100,000)
  • Carhenge (86,598)
  • Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer (60,002)
  • Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park (28,446).

47%

Objective language
using neutral rather than subjective, boastful, or exaggerated language (otherwise the same as the control condition)

Nebraska has several attractions. In 1996, some of the most-visited places were Fort Robinson State Park (355,000 visitors), Scotts Bluff National Monument (132,166), Arbor Lodge State Historical Park & Museum (100,000), Carhenge (86,598), Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer (60,002), and Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park (28,446).

27%

Combined version
using all three improvements in writing style together: concise, scannable, and objective

In 1996, six of the most-visited places in Nebraska were:

  • Fort Robinson State Park
  • Scotts Bluff National Monument
  • Arbor Lodge State Historical Park & Museum
  • Carhenge
  • Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer
  • Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park

124%