Research Methoddoly used:

  • One-­on-­one usability testing, in which we observed what helped or hindered seniors as they attempted to complete a set of tasks on a variety of websites
  • Eyetracking, in which we followed people’s eye movements as they conducted a one-­on-­one usability study
  • Card Sorting, for which participants categorized topics on index cards into meaningful piles and then named the piles
  • Expert review of websites based on common usability heuristics
  • Interview

Summaries & photoblogs Are Better than Full Articles

Better to encourage selective reading by showing a broader sample of summaries; by doing so, you’re more likely to hit the users’ interests and actually get them to read

People look at lists with bullets more often than lists without bullets (70% vs. 55%, respectively).

59% of cases people looked no farther than the third organic result (but also keep it mind kick effect: People look at the last result on a SERP before leaving the page. (The tenth organic result, on a page of 10 results, is the lowest result looked at in 12% of cases versus 7% combined for the seventh, eighth, and ninth results.)

Passionate Followers May Want Full Text

but in first two examples show blogs with full articles on the front page. In both cases, users scanned the first article but didn’t look any further. If your first article doesn’t interest users, you lose them by “using up” all their interest as they wade through that first topic.

F-Shaped Pattern For Reading Web Content

users’ main reading behavior was fairly consistent across many different sites and tasks. This dominant reading pattern looks somewhat like an F and has the following three components


(more on

The Ultimate Fact Seekers

Journalists typically scanned past lines of text that seemed too marketing-oriented. They were always wary (and sometimes cynical) about marketing information.

On the Fidelity site, a journalist liked the simple facts about the funds because they provided context for his readers:

“I like this part: ‘We have 290 funds.’ That’s a fact…. I would print this out. I do like facts.”

A journalist was also impressed with how the Wal-Mart site explained financial information in the annual report:

“This is good because they explain the numbers, and it’s the important numbers that people really want to know. Good that they are up front about it. Here, I can see their sales are over $137 billion, and they’re up from last year. Good to point out they have improved their sales, and almost 20%.”

A journalist visiting the BMW website was impressed by the thoroughness of the safety information:

“Safety record — I would consider that a good piece of info. One of the reasons I think people buy expensive cars is that they will protect them more in an accident or help them prevent an accident. … This is actually more precise information. This is not a sales pitch. This term, ‘crumple zone,’ I would find use for in my article… about the lights, these are all high-tech things that I think readers would find interesting. Those are the kinds of specifics I would be looking for.”

“Just the Facts, Ma’am” – offended by irrelevant information

This information helps users understand your organization’s background, stability, and credibility.

About us page

What: finding contact information

What: finding out what the company or organization does

We recommend providing About Us information at 4 levels of detail:

  1. Tagline on the homepage: A few words or a brief sentence summarizing what the organization does.
  2. Summary: 1-2 paragraphs at the top of the main About Us page that offer a bit more detail about the organization’s goal and main accomplishments.
  3. Fact sheet: A section following the summary that elaborates on its key points and other essential facts about the organization.
  4. Detailed information: Subsidiary pages with more depth for people who want to learn more about the organization.

Of course, the need for scannability, conciseness, and plainspoken exposition extends from the overview page to About Us section’s mass of interior pages as well. Compare, for example, these user comments about two different company history pages:

[Not liking Bayer, which used a complex Flash-based presentation]: “They have clunky paragraphs. Key points work better to convey these things. They have years highlighted, but it’s easier to digest if it’s in a true timeline fashion.”

[Liking Pier 1 Imports, which had a scannable history page]: “I like the page on the history. It gives the years and what they’ve done since they started the business. You can learn a lot by just reading this little page here — milestones that they’ve accomplished since they’ve been in existence. It’s bulleted here and you can find it.”

Good/Bad Examples & Why Explain Yourself?