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HomeGuidelines > 5. Reduce cognitive burdens. . > 5f. Reduce scrolling. > Challenge





Audience Fit


Bonus! Hot Text chapter (137K, PDF, 2 minutes at 56K)


Rewrite to display the critical 80 words, dispatching the rest to other locations or out of sight, below, on the same page.

(You can divide the material up).

Imagining the data space we encounter on the Internet is as difficult as envisioning a city we have never visited before. But as we go down certain routes, congregate around certain cafes, get involved in various chats, explore famous sites, we begin to acquire mental landmarks. We build a three-dimensional model of the information space, the way a visitor to a city gradually puts together various forays, making sense of them, beginning to see where they overlap, where the paths repeat, where you have to make up your mind to turn, or get stuck on some highway for another five miles. These maps we make have length, width, and depth—and an acute sense of the time involved on each trek. The maps we form resemble those made by city dwellers when the architect Kevin Lynch asked them to draw the route they took to go from home to the office every day. Some people had survey knowledge: they constantly oriented themselves in regard to key regions (the Charles River, the bay) and landmarks like the John Hancock Building (in Boston) or the Eiffel Tower (yes, in Paris). They did not know any particular street that well, and may in fact have chosen different routes on different days, but they always knew where they were in relation to large bodies of water, and tall structures. Other people had route knowledge. They remembered key decision points. At the McDonald’s I have to turn left. In between decision points, these people had only blurred memories; but at the moment they were about to have to make a decision, or a turn, they could envision the exact storefronts and lay of the land of that local turf; in fact, these details acted as a trigger, signaling them to wake up and pay attention again, because they were about to have to make a choice. Those who knew the city best (knowing regions, landmarks, and paths intimately) tended to take that other knowledge for granted, and make decisions based on small, local landmarks.


Other ways to make your text easier to understand:

5a. Reduce the number of clauses per sentence.

5b. Blow up nominalizations and noun trains.

5c. Watch out for ambiguous phrases a user might have to debate.

5d. Surface the agent and action, so users don't have to guess.

5e. Make a positive statement.

5g. Let users print or save the entire document at once.

Resources on thoughtlessness

Taking a Position on Thoughtlessness

Heuristic Online Text (H. O. T.) Evaluation of Cognitive Burdens




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