RE: What's your preference: One long page or several small pages?

Subject: RE: What's your preference: One long page or several small pages?
From: <mbaker -at- analecta -dot- com>
To: "'John G'" <john -at- garisons -dot- com>, "'TechWhirl'" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 2 Aug 2018 15:50:36 -0400


It depends on who you decide your principle audience is. What your principle
audience -- your ordinarily qualified user -- will need each time they
complete the task, should be on a single page. Material that may be needed
by an unqualified user, or only occasionally by a qualified user under
unusual circumstances, should be removed to separate linked pages.

This arrangement is important because you always have people of different
levels of qualification attempting any task. If you include everything that
any one of these people might ever need in one long page, it will be
extremely long, and your normal qualified user will struggle to find the
parts that they actually need to worry about, which most of your unqualified
users will be so daunted by the sheer size of the document that they often
won't attempt the task at all.

On the other hand, if you reduce the documentation down to just what the
core audience needs most of the time, you are going to leave out a fair
amount of stuff that will sometimes be needed by a significant portion of
your audience.

This is a problem that hypertext can address much more easily than paper.
With paper, you often end up with an uncomfortable compromise between the
needs of different users, because the is no easy and efficient way to get
less qualified users to the information they need. But in a hypertext
environment, you can include all the information that anyone might need as
separate topics and link to them where appropriate from the main topic,
which can then be written to support the mainstream case of the normal
qualified user.

Mark


> I have several long-ish pages (5 or 6 screenloads) each of which contains
> rather complex instructions to run a procedure.
>
> Is that better than spreading the same information across 5 or 6 short
pages
> -- assuming there's an intro/overview and links from each short page to
the
> previous and next pages?
>
> My arguments for long pages:
>
> - One long page is easy to bookmark
> - PDFing is easy and fast an includes everything
> - Easy to look back and ahead
>
> My arguments for short pages:
>
> - Less intimidating
> - Easier to scan and read
>
> Your thoughts? And bonus points if you can cite user preferences and
> reasons!
>
> Thanks in advance,
>
> John Garison | Lead Technical Communicator | Medidata Solutions
> 350 Hudson Street, 9th Floor. | New York, NY 10014 || 441 Blood Road,
> Chester, VT 05143
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References:
What's your preference: One long page or several small pages?: From: John G

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