Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Question About Website Readibility

A question for folks...

Currently the pages of my website describe the fantasy setting I am prayerfully creating are few and long. For example, all eight of the intelligent races are on one page.

I am about to make all sorts of updates, because the setting has evolved during January and February even though I lacked time then to put those changes online. Before I do lots of typing, I'll ask...

Is it better to have fewer but longer pages, or more short pages?

For example, should I break up that page about the eight races so that each race has its own page?
I know short pages are easier for readers.

I also know fewer pages allows all pages to have top-level site navigation (right now I do not need a table of contents or index for the fantasy setting).

Which is more important?
I suspect that short pages are becoming more important as netbooks and tablets become more popular. Clicking to follow an link from an index page is easy on a small screen, but long pages are bothersome.


cayswann said...

At first glance, from a mobile device, the race page was so long I wouldn't read it. On the web, you have nice jump links to the sections of the page, but no "back to top" links next to them.

On one hand, I like pages that say enough and everything you wanted on that page. On the other hand, sometimes I'm turned off by pages that are too long. But most of the time, multiple clicks are a problem. If you split the races to multiple pages, you run the risk of losing readers because of extra clicks. Then again, some user interface people say that content keeps the reader, no matter how many clicks it takes.

Jonathan Lovelace said...

In most cases I vastly prefer a single long page to many shorter pages. The only case where I prefer the shorter pages is if I want to switch back and forth between them.

But a single long page hardly lessens the need for a table of contents or index. Using anchors and internal links to let the reader jump to a specific part of the document (or to the top) is a far better solution IMO than switching to several smaller pages.

On the other hand, smaller pages have the advantage that they can be updated independently and each have its own "last changed on" timestamp, leaving readers less confused on what changed.

P.D. Magnus said...

I vote fewer, longer pages - but with good anchors. (Lots of sites that have very small pages just do it so as to expose visitors to more ads.)