Goldilocks Content Framework: DUX 2005 Submission

Jared Spool

November 5th, 2005

Yesterday, I gave a presentation at the DUX 2005 conference. (Well, it was more of an advertisement to read the paper — the DUX format doesn’t really lend itself to actually presenting information. In the session I was in, the presentations were limited to a whopping 5 minutes.)

For those of you who aren’t attending the conference, you can download the 21-page summary of the work from here.

If you want to see the script of my presentation (it was the only way I could keep my talk to 5 minutes), you can download the 7 pages from here and the slides from here. (Yes, few people can cram in 39 slide transitions into a 5-minute presentation.)

I’m told audio will be available some day. (We didn’t record it.)

Did you hear the presentation? How did you think it went? I’d be curious.

8 Responses to “Goldilocks Content Framework: DUX 2005 Submission”

  1. Andy Kirkwood Says:

    ‘Read this’
    I’m always surprised when a website with a focus on usability features the dreaded ‘click here’, or (as above) ‘here’, ‘here’ and ‘here’ as hyperlink text.

    We’ve compiled a guide on how to write hypertext in an effort to remedy the issue.
    (If we’re advocating for usability, we need to start by bringing our own websites up to scratch.)

  2. Jared Spool Says:

    Hi Andy,

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    Of course, our research into information scent has shown that users, while initially scanning for links, do stop and read the associated text for the link, which surrounds it. From this, we’d deduce that there is little harm in links that say “Get the slides from here“.

    Do you have user data that suggests otherwise? If so, we’d love to see it.

  3. Andy Kirkwood Says:

    Part of the issue relates to an accessibility consideration that you’ve mentioned that you’re a little light on, namely screen reader technology.

    A screen reader can build a summary of webpage content based on heading and anchor elements (similar to a table of contents). This enables the user to assess the relevance of the content to their needs without ‘reading’ the entire text. ‘Here’ and ‘click here’ have no value in this context.

    When the content of the page is read the link text is declared, e.g. “Link to: link text”. In the copy above, a screen reader would announce “Link to here” (x3).

    For sighted users, although the associated text may be read, the format used above requires that it is read to establish context. Think of links as in-text headings. ‘here’, ‘here’ and ‘here’ do not enable users to relocate information by scanning the page.

    It may come down to usability ideals/principles, but rather than seeking to do little harm perhaps we should be seeking to enable use?

    The guide to writing hypertext includes links to best practice recommendations in the References and further reading.

  4. Beth Berrean Says:

    I enjoyed your presentation and wish there had been more opportunities for questions.

    Here’s one that I didn’t get to ask.

    You use a lot of examples from University websites to illustrate your point. What if your fundamental assumption–people come to websites for the content–doesn’t apply.

    As an IA at a university, I frequently hear “students don’t come to our website to learn about x, y or z. They already know it.” OR “We’re XXXX people already know what they need to.”

    Mind-boggling though it may seem, my internal clients frequently feel they “just need a website” not that the need to invest in actual content creation.

    Any thoughts or are you going to make me read the whole paper?

  5. Jared Spool Says:

    Hi Beth,

    I don’t think the entire paper is that difficult to read, but I’ll try to answer your question without forcing you to do so. 🙂

    Students may not come to your website (I doubt that statement, but let’s go with it), however parents might. Or alumni. Or community members. Or prospective life-long-learning attendees (assuming you have some sort of community.

    Our research suggests there are 14 topics to look at. (You’ll need to read the paper to get the entire list. It’s on page 8.) For any given area of content on your site, the 14 topics may apply.

    For example, if your university has a school of nursing and you have content for prospective students, then you might consider content from the following areas:

    • Identifying needs: Is nursing something I should even consider?
    • Understanding identified needs: What are all the flavors of nursing? What are all the different approaches for becoming a nurse?
    • Choosing solutions: How do I decide which school is right for me?
    • Refining solutions: I’ve chosen to go to your school. How do I prepare for my new education?
    • Educating others: How do I explain my choice of your school to my friends and family? How do I tell my spouse what to expect about what school will be like for me?
    • Purchasing and supporting products: How do I pay for my education? How do I get problems resolved with financial aid? What are my options if I don’t like a teacher/class?
    • Inukshuk: What are the experiences of people before me?
    • Topical News: What’s changing in the nursing industry in my state? What new certification requirements are there?

    These are just some of the 14 questions, but hopefully I’ve explained enough so you can see how you’d use them to help “fill out” the content on the site, even when everyone already knows what the answers to the questions are.

  6. Grant Skousen Says:

    Your presentation was one of the most memorable at dux05. I really enjoyed it, but I had seen the slides and listened to part of your brainsparks presentation before dux.

  7. Jared Spool Says:

    Your presentation was one of the most memorable at dux05.

    Why, thank you, Grant! I think the only way I could’ve made it more memorable would’ve been to give it standing stark naked.

  8. Jeff Bridgforth » Just Right Content Says:

    […] I read an article over my “Christmas break” about “just right content.”  It is a paper by Jared Spool of UIE.  The paper shares some findings of a research project that is still in progress.  I can’t wait until they finish the project and have some practical tools that I as a designer can implement to make my sites better. […]

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