12 Jul Content Chunking: Designing Precise, Engaging Web Pages
The Web is a large market, and your website a small store in it. Attracting and retaining people’s attention to your store is becoming more difficult than ever before. Utilizing ‘words’ to your advantage is then one of the most practical techniques to capture your audience’s attention.
What’s in a Word?
Users approach online information differently than information contained in print media.
And how do users read on the web? Frankly speaking, They don’t.
Online readers rarely read Web pages word by word; instead they scan it, picking out individual bits of words and sentences, reading sub titles etc…
But not every website has readable content, one which is easy to process and understand. This can cause users to struggle to find specific information, make them work harder and eventually leave your site because of a poor reading experience.
That’s why your website needs to use content chunking to its advantage. Chunking content is a technique that combines pieces of content into manageable, easily absorbable chunks making it easy for users to consume as they navigate through the site. It also helps readers find what they are looking for quickly. Just like tedious manuals and books get easy to navigate when they are divided into Chapters, topics, titles etc; similarly web content works best when it is chunked hierarchically into:
- Short Sentences
- Short paragraphs, one idea per paragraph
- Meaningful sub-headings
- Bulleted lists (here we go!:)
- Highlight important words and sections
- Inline graphics that guide the eye or illustrate points in a more precise manner
- Half the word count (or less) than conventional writing
Tips for Creating Chunk-y Content
Chunking coincides with the natural way the human mind functions while taking in new information and applying stored information to new situations (Shirk, 1991). Due to the limitations of screen reading, the mind can process only about three to four chunks of information at a time. An overly long piece hence can make remembering information hard, and harder still while retrieving it.
Organize your Talking Points
You have a lot to tell, but if it’s not organized in a clear and orderly way, it can lose its meaning quickly. When you write your content, make sure to include only information that is necessary. Thinking carefully about what you want to say and figuring with a few key talking points will help you immensely to build the individual pages of your site. For each talking point, create outlines, chunk your information into sections and subsections, and add an image if you can.
Use the Inverted Pyramid Method
The inverted pyramid style, as used in journalism works well with web pages too. It is a method for presenting information where the most important information, represented by the base of the pyramid, is presented first and the least important (the tip) is presented last. In other words, place the important facts near the top of the first paragraph where users can find them quickly, followed by the body, where the information presented in the lead is elaborated on and substantiated, in descending order of importance.
Spacing and Placing Content Chunks
Browsing a page is easier when each element in a content chunk is spaced evenly. This often means breaking up long paragraphs, and using more subheadings, and extra spacing between your head-line and paragraph text or between your para-graph text and your image. This way the elements won’t crowd to close together and will not appear to be a visually monotonous block of text.
Use of Web Links to Sort Information
Concise chunks of information are better suited onscreen than long articles. Further information can lend itself to web links. Add links to topics which you think need more explanation or to find a specific unit of relevant information.
Chunking can help organize and present information in a modular layout that is consistent throughout the site. Once you do it right, you can turn a tacky, dishevelled and confusing page into one that’s precise and engaging to read.