Re: To scroll or not to scroll?

Subject: Re: To scroll or not to scroll?
From: Yvonne DeGraw <yvonne -at- SILCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 23 Apr 1996 09:23:46 -0700

On whether to create long scrolling pages or lots of short pages:

A long page need not be painful to download. Even a long HTML file is
usually smaller in size than a medium size image. If you specify the width
and height of all graphics, Netscape and many other browsers can quickly
display the text and allow readers to scroll through the text. This allows
the browser to load the figures while the reader is reading -- making it
"feel" faster.

Also, if you avoid putting large figures (or figures that aren't already in
the user's cache) at the top of long pages, you can further disguise some
of the time taken to download images.

So, if you can mitigate download time issues, we come back to usability
issues. Here, as elsewhere in tech comm, the answer is "it depends".

If the material is not naturally linear, multiple pages are generally
better. They let readers avoid downloading a bunch of unneeded stuff.

However, if the material has an inherent linear flow, a long page may be
the answer. (Of course, almost nothing should be strictly linear on the
Web.) See the application note at
http://www.di.com/AppNotes/ForcCurv/Main.html for an example. The audience
is physicists, who are comfortable with academic papers.

(Also, if readers will often want to print the entire document -- like a
report on a stock or a review of a car -- a single page may be better.)

Lately I've been irritated by sites with lots of small pages and link text
that is unclear or leads me to believe that *at last* I've found the page I
need -- when actually I'm still 2 more jumps away. Bad trend. Usually, this
is the fault of misleading text. Of course, they probably didn't have a
technical writer...

Yvonne DeGraw, Technical Services o Web Authoring
yvonne -at- silcom -dot- com o Technical Writing
http://www.silcom.com/~yvonne/ o Database Design and Publishing
Tel: 805/683-5784 o User-Interface Design
(Check out my "NanoTheater": http://www.di.com/Theater/Main.html)

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