Week 2: Chunking

Week 2 – Chunking

Strategies – Online examples

• Analysis by many people using font changes: 2008 NFL predictions (Fox Sports)

• Breaking story into multiple pages: Great Performances (Time)

• Q&A with bold text: Interview with Laura Bush and Cindy McCain (Newsweek)

• Using subheads: Google’s St. Valentine’s Day massacre? (cnn.com)

• Charts, links, bold text: Mother and child reunion (cnn.com)

• Pictures, charts, subheads, related stories: Last best places (Star Tribune)

• List of categorized links: Health and Wellness (Reader’s Digest)

• List with bold text: 20 Ways to Lose Weight After the Holidays (Reader’s Digest)

• Intro with detailed list: Top Ten Nutrition and Fitness Tips (Reader’s Digest)

• Analysis of chunking: Interview with Web optimization expert Andy King (March 10, 2003)

How short is too short? How “chunked” is too chunked?

Ah, the paging versus scrolling issue. This is a complex topic with lots of variables at play. There are a number of studies out there, and some rule-of-thumb guidelines. (Usability expert Jakob) Nielsen has softened his “users don’t like to scroll” stance, as we’ve become used to some scrolling.

For longer texts (4 to 6 screens), some studies have shown that users read faster paging from screen to screen and more importantly find information faster paging, rather than scrolling one long document. However, a SURL study found that paging through short pages took significantly longer to read than a “full” or “scrolling” condition.

A screen-full of text seemed to perform best (the author estimates that the optimum page length is about 700 words). I’ve seen recommendations up to 2 to 3 screens for the length you want to make individual pages in a longer document.

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