WWW-discussion (summary)

Subject: WWW-discussion (summary)
From: Wineke Schoo <w -dot- schoo -at- NOLDUS -dot- NL>
Date: Thu, 9 Nov 1995 11:52:11 +0000

Dear colleagues,

First of all I would like to thank all of you for reacting so
enthusiastically to our WWW-discussion about long vs. short Web
pages. Most of them were very interesting and worthfully and we will
certainly use the information for our own Web activities.

Some of you asked for a summary of the discussion. I will forward
our summary below.

But first of all we had a lot of questions about the kind of business
we are in. We are a software company that develops programs for
behavioral research.

Problem, in short

As a young company we are planning to get ourselves a site at the
World Wide Web. But after a restricted, internal investigation we
found out that many of our collegues think differently about the
realization of it, in particular about the length of the various
texts. In short, regarding to this, there roughly are two very
conflicting opinions:

The first group is convinced that it is usual on the WWW to enter
brochure texts integrally, in an unshortened form. This means
using the existing brochure text and translate it to HTML texts.
They think Web surfers will make a printout if they find it too
long to read it on screen.

The second group is convinced that WWW texts have to be easily
readable and in a restricted length. They think the WWW is a
complementary medium and that it will never completely replace the
printed media.

Three options

1. Use brochure texts integrally, in an unshortened form. Advise
people to make printouts if it is too LONG to read on

2. Use easily readable texts, especially adapted for WWW in a
restricted length.

3. Otherwise, specifically:


Nobody voted for option 1 without restriction. 50% of all responders
voted for option 2. The other 50% of the responders did not directly
vote for option 1 or 2, but expressed another opinion. I quote some
of them:

* Use easily readable texts, especially adapted for WWW in a
restricted length. BUT you may want to make the full brochure text
available to the sufficiently interested reader.

* In my opinion, many brochures can be put on line in full without
violating the requirements of #2. I think requiring that the user
need never touch the scroll bar is too restrictive, and leads to
unnecessarily fragmented presentation. Second, the novelty of the web
is wearing off, and people are starting to get annoyed by pages where
the ratio of links and decoration to content is too high. Some of us
find it refreshing to have, say, 15K of text to _read_ for a change.

* Both sides of your WWW argument have a good point. Page screens
should be VERY easy to read--you should be able to tell what
information is available in just a few seconds. Large INITIAL blocks
of text are intimidating and tiring. However, the full information
SHOULD be there.

* 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.

* My suggestion is that you have a main page with links to topics
covered. Then have several Web pages, no longer than about 50 lines
each. People can skip around and read what they want in the order
they want.

* Web pages do not eliminate the need for marketing mailings and
glossy brochures, but they enable a company to communicate to a wider
audience in a more immediate and different way. To make a web page
just a teaser to get people to call or write in for a brochure seems
to diminish the effectiveness of the web as a means of providing

And, last but not least, a very wise one:

*** One size never fits all ***

Thanks again for taking part in our discussion.

Wineke Schoo
Wineke Schoo (Consultant)
Noldus Information Technology
Costerweg 5 phone: +31-(0)317-497677
P.O. Box 268 fax: +31-(0)317-424496
6700 AG Wageningen
The Netherlands

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