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Morkes, J., & Nielsen, J. (1997). Concise, SCANNABLE, and Objective: How to Write for the Web. http://www.useit.com/papers/webwriting.html

Three web usability studies were conducted to examine how users read websites and to determine what writing styles would facilitate usage and increase user satisfaction. The first study compared the reading behavior of technical and non-technical users. The study did not find any major differences between the two groups; both groups preferred scannable, short texts that provide summaries, include hyperlinks and graphics, and follow an inverted pyramid structure. The findings also suggested that users value search engines, that users want to wait for pages to load, and that users expect and desire conventional organization patterns. The second study examined how users read and process longer texts. The findings indicate that users prefer simple and informal writing, that users consider credibility important, and that users want to find information quickly. As in study 1, users preferred scannable, concise texts that includes hyperlinks. In the third study, the researchers posed six hypotheses based on the findings in the first two studies. Participants tested five variations of a web site and were asked to perform tasks and answer a questionnaire. Using measures such as task time, task errors, memory (recognition and recall), time to recall site structure, and subjective satisfaction, the researchers were able to conclude that scannable, concise, and objective writing styles improve web performance and satisfaction and that promotional writing has a negative effect on usability and satisfaction.