The experiment used five versions of a web site designed for this study.

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The participants were 51 experienced Web users recruited by Sun (average quantity of Web experience was 24 months). Participants ranged in age from 22-69 (average age was 41). In an attempt 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 results of age and Web experience regarding 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,” the website contained information about Nebraska. We used a travel site because 1) in our earlier qualitative studies, many internet users said travel is regarded as their interests, and 2) travel content lent itself into the different writing styles we desired to study. We chose Nebraska to minimize the effect of prior knowledge on our measures (in recruiting participants, we screened out people who had ever lived in, and on occasion even near, Nebraska).

Each form of the Travel Nebraska site consisted of seven pages, and all versions used the same hypertext structure. To ensure participants would focus on text and not be distracted, we used hypertext that is modestwith no links outside of the site) and included only three photos plus one illustration. There is no animation. Topics included in the site were Nebraska’s history, geography, population, places of interest, and economy. The Appendix to this paper shows components of a sample page from each condition.

The control form of your website had a promotional type of writing (in other words., “marketese,”), which contained exaggeration, subjective claims, and boasting, instead of just simple facts. This style is characteristic of numerous pages on the Web today.

The concise version had a promotional writing style, but its text was much shorter. Certain less-important information was cut, bringing your message count for every page to about half compared to the corresponding page when you look at the control version. A few of the writing in this version was at the inverted pyramid style. However, all information users needed to perform the required tasks was presented within the same order in all versions associated with the site.

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

The version that is objective 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.

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

The experimenter explained that he would observe from the room next door to the lab through the one-way mirror after making sure the participant knew how to use the browser. Through the study, the participant received both printed instructions from a paper packet and verbal instructions from the experimenter.

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

Next, the participant was instructed to blow 10 minutes learning whenever you can from the pages within the website, when preparing for a short exam. Finally, the participant was asked to draw in some recoverable format the structure regarding the website, to the best of his / her recollection.

After completing the research, each participant was told information regarding the study and received a present.

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

The 2 search tasks were to resolve: “about what date did Nebraska become a state?” and “Which Nebraska city could be the 7th largest, in terms of population?” The questions for the judgment task were: “In your opinion, which tourist attraction will be the 20% off one that is best to check out? How come you imagine so?”

Task errors was a share score in line with the true wide range of incorrect answers users gave into the two search tasks.

Memory comprised two measures through the exam: recognition and recall. Recognition memory was a share score based on the number of correct answers without the amount of incorrect answers to 5 multiple-choice questions. For example, one of the questions read: “which can be Nebraska’s largest ethnic group? a) English b) Swedes c) Germans d) Irish.”

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

Time and energy to recall site structure was the true number of seconds it took users to draw a sitemap.

A measure that is related sitemap accuracy, was a percentage score based on the wide range of pages (maximum 7) and connections between pages (maximum 9) correctly identified, minus the quantity of pages and connections incorrectly identified.

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