The experiment used five versions of a site made for this research.

The experiment used five versions of a site made for this research.


The participants were 51 experienced Web users recruited by Sun (average quantity of Web experience was a couple of years). Participants ranged in age from 22-69 (average age was 41). So as to give attention to “normal users,” we excluded the following professions from the study: webmasters, web-site designers, graphic artists, graphical user interface professionals, writers, editors, computer scientists, and computer programmers.

We checked for outcomes of age and Web experience on the dependent variables mentioned in the first five hypotheses, but we found only negligible differences-none significant. Had the sites inside our study been more difficult to navigate or had our tasks necessitated use of search engines or other Web infrastructure, we might have expected significant ramifications of both age and Web experience.

The experiment employed a 5-condition (promotional control, scannable, concise, objective, or combined) between-subjects design. Conditions were balanced for gender and employment status.

Experimental Materials

Called “Travel Nebraska,” your website contained information regarding Nebraska. We used a travel site because 1) inside our earlier qualitative studies, many internet users said travel is one of their interests, and 2) travel content lent itself to your writing that is different we desired to study. We chose Nebraska to reduce the result of prior knowledge on our measures (in recruiting participants, we screened out individuals who had ever lived in, and sometimes even near, Nebraska).

Each version of the Travel Nebraska site consisted of seven pages, and all versions used the same hypertext structure. Making sure that participants would give attention to text and not be distracted, we used hypertext that is modestwithout any links outside of the site) and included only three photos plus one illustration. There was clearly no animation. Topics included in the site were Nebraska’s history, geography, population, tourist attractions, and economy. The Appendix to this paper shows areas of a sample page from each condition.

The control form of the website had a promotional form of writing (for example., “marketese,”), which contained exaggeration, subjective claims, and boasting, instead of just simple facts. Today this style is characteristic of many pages on the Web.

The concise version had a writing that is promotional, but its text was much shorter. Certain less-important information was cut, bringing your message count for every page to about 50 % compared to the corresponding page when you look at the control version. Some of the writing in this version was at the inverted style that is pyramid. However, all information users needed to perform the necessary tasks was presented into the same order in all versions of this site.

The version that is scannable contained marketese, however it was written to encourage scanning, or skimming, of this text for information of interest. This version used bulleted lists, boldface text to highlight keywords, photo captions, shorter sections of text, and more headings.

The objective version was stripped of marketese. It presented information without exaggeration, subjective claims, or boasting.

The combined version had shorter word count, was marked up for scannability, and was stripped of marketese.

The participant signed a videotape consent form, then was told he or she would visit a website, perform tasks, and answer several questions upon arrival at the usability lab.

After making certain the participant knew simple tips to make use of the browser, the experimenter explained that he would observe through the room across the street towards the lab through the one-way mirror. Through the entire study, the participant received both printed instructions from a paper packet and verbal instructions from the experimenter.

The participant began at the site’s homepage. The very first two tasks were to search for specific facts (situated on separate pages when you look at the site), without using a search tool or even the “Find” command. The participant then answered Part 1 of a brief questionnaire. Next was a judgment task (suggested by Spool et al. 1997) in which the participant first needed to find relevant information, then make a judgment about this. This task was followed by Part 2 of this questionnaire.

Next, the participant was instructed to spend ten minutes learning as much as possible through the pages in the website, in preparation for a short exam. Finally, the participant was asked to attract written down the structure of this website, towards the best of his or her recollection.

Each participant was told details about the study and received a gift after completing the study.

Task time was the true wide range of seconds it took users to get answers for the two search tasks and another judgment task.

The two search tasks were to answer: “On what date did Nebraska become a continuing state?” and “Which Nebraska city may be the 7th largest, with regards to population?” The questions for the judgment task were: “In your opinion, which tourist attraction is the right one to check out? Why do you might think so?”

Task errors was a share score based on the number of incorrect answers users gave when you look at the two search tasks.

Memory comprised two measures from the exam: recall and recognition. Recognition memory was a percentage score based on the wide range of correct answers without the number of incorrect answers to 5 multiple-choice questions. As an example, one of the questions read: “that will be Nebraska’s largest ethnic group? a) English b) Swedes c) Germans d) Irish.”

Recall memory was a portion score based on the quantity of places of interest correctly recalled without the number incorrectly recalled. The question was: “Do you remember any true names of tourist attractions mentioned within the website? Please utilize the space below to list all the ones you remember.”

Time for you to recall site structure was the true quantity of seconds it took users to draw a sitemap.

A related measure, sitemap accuracy, was a percentage score on the basis of the amount of pages (maximum 7) and connections between pages (maximum 9) correctly identified, without the quantity of pages and connections incorrectly identified.

Subjective satisfaction was determined from participants’ answers to a paper-and-pencil questionnaire. Some questions asked about specific components of dealing with the site, along with other questions asked for an assessment of how good adjectives that are certain the website (anchored by “Describes the website very poorly” to “Describes your website very well”). All questions used 10-point Likert scales.

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