Monday, March 03, 2008

Company Name First in Microcontent? Sometimes!

Typically, you should deemphasize your company's name in links, but a new guideline recommends frontloading the name for search engine links under certain conditions.

Based on our current round of user testing, which is aimed at updating our usability seminars, we've modified one of the oldest Web usability guidelines.

Since we first published studies of how users read on websites 11 years ago, the guidelines for writing microcontent, such as links, headlines, and page titles, have been very clear:

* Start with highly information-carrying words, because users often scan only the beginning of a content container.
* Avoid starting with your company name on your own site.

To illustrate the second guideline's importance, let's take a look at the news area for Highway Holdings, a company with 1,500 employees: (below)

Every news item starts with the words "Highway Holdings," which raises two key problems:

* The news is about this company, on its own homepage, making the repetitive use of the company name largely uninformative and a waste of extraordinarily precious real estate (each list item's first two words).
* Starting all links with the same words makes the choices harder to differentiate, and thus harder to use.

(The site's use of international date format does follow guideline #17 for press releases and PR on a corporate website. However, it then violates guideline #21 by not having posted any press releases for four months.)

As illustrated by this example, the basic guidelines for writing for the Web continue to hold, including the guideline that it's bad to start links with your own company name."    (Continued via Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox)    [Usability Resources]

Front Loaded Links - Usability, User Interface Design

Front Loaded Links


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