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LibGuide Design: Best Practices and Guidelines

This guide is designed to provide guidance on making LibGuides more useful, accessible, and relevant to users through best practices that incorporate usability and web design.

Writing for the Web

Writing for the Web is Different

People don't read web pages the same way that they read books or articles:

  • They scan and skim rather than reading word for word.
  • They tend to read in an F-shaped, zigzag, or "lawnmower" pattern, scanning the tops and sides of the page rather than starting at the top and reading all the way down.
  • They look for relevant information that will help them accomplish a given task or tasks.

We know that making conscious decisions to write content for web readers improves usability. The following guidelines and best practices will help our users to get the most out of WSU LibGuides.

Key Concepts for Writing for the Web:

  • Keep the amount of text on your page to a minimum.
  • Use subheadings, bulleted lists, or numbered lists to chunk information so that that users will notice it when they scan the page.
  • When possible, use white space to create pages that are easier to scan.
  • Use images selectively to add interest of provide help/illustration, but avoid distracting from content that users need.
  • ​Avoid jargon when possible. Use plain language that non-experts can understand.

Nielsen Norman Group Research

The Nielsen Norman Group, or NN/g, Is a user experience research and consulting firm. These are some articles relevant to writing for the web when creating LibGuides:

Resources for Writing for the Web

WSU Libraries, PO Box 645610, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-5610, 509-335-9671, Contact Us