Long vs. Short Web pages

Subject: Long vs. Short Web pages
From: Nancy Hoft <nhoft -at- ITECH -dot- MV -dot- COM>
Date: Sun, 29 Oct 1995 09:28:51 -0500

>Date: Fri, 27 Oct 1995 09:03:20 +0000
>From: Wineke Schoo <w -dot- schoo -at- NOLDUS -dot- NL>
>Subject: WWW discussion (long vs short)

I recently coauthored a book on Web page design with Bill Horton, Lee
Taylor, and Art Ignacio. One of my contributions to the project was to
investigate this very question: long vs. short web pages.

If you WANT users to print out your brochure, keep your brochure as a long
Web page, but include a short table of contents at the top that lets users
easily jump to various sections of the brochure. Consider including a "back
to top" jump at each heading in your brochure. Use <a name =""> to implement
the TOC.

If your brochure is exclusively for online reading, do break it up into
readable, usable chunks (files) that are linked intelligently. Don't break
it up so that it require five or more jumps (downloads) to read a simple
brochure. Users will get bored easily and jump away from your Web site quickly.

However, a nice combination of both might be a more attractive solution.
Maybe you can implement a guest book and MAIL the real printed brochure to
your online vistors. Maybe the only page you want people to print is a page
with your contact information. And so on.

You didn't provide any information about your company and what
products/services it offers so it's hard to recommend additional ideas here.
But keep in mind that the WWW is NOT a platform exclusively for marketing
and sales. It's a platform for sharing information (FOR FREE!). It's about

Unless you add value to your site by sharing information other than
marketing material about your company your users have no incentive to return
to your site. If you include ancillary links to related topics, or a
reference page relating to your products, or you have an online quiz or
something tastefully humorous that changes once a month, or ... and so on,
there's minimal point to having a web page. You can achieve the same results
via direct marketing.

So, I recommend that you extend your long vs. short question to include the
following: How can we add value (content) to our Web site to keep users
coming back?

Nancy Hoft
Coauthor, The Web Page Design Cookbook
John Wiley & Sons
Available November 1995
N a n c y H o f t
International Technical Communication Services
RR2 Box 493 Moran Road, Temple, NH 03084-9761 USA
V: 603.878.4540 ~ F: 603.878.0508 ~ E: nhoft -at- itech -dot- mv -dot- com

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