Tuesday, July 19

Text- The Neglected Media in Multimedia Design

Occasionally we gloss over the basics. Here's a good resource, Usability News, and a good read on single versus multiple column layouts that we can apply to learning and elearning materials.
In summary, the major findings regarding line length, justification, and multi-column displays and online reading have been:
  • Longer line lengths generally facilitate faster reading speeds.
  • Shorter line lengths result in increased comprehension.
  • The optimal number of characters per line is between 45 and 65.
  • Paging through online text generally results in better comprehension than scrolling.
  • Reading speed is faster for both single and multiple columns, but preference is for multiple short columns.
  • Left-justified text is read faster than full-justified text.
From Is Multiple-Column Online Text Better? It Depends! by J. Ryan Baker, full article here: http://psychology.wichita.edu/surl/usabilitynews/72/columns.htm

Apologies about the duplication to readers of my own blog, but I thought this worthy of posting here. Even an immersive VR simulation has been known to start with or include some text.

1 comment:

jay said...

Yes, Tom, that's a great article. I wonder about the impact of what's being read. And skimming vs. reading.

Personally, I find justified text boring. If I'm reading full-speed-ahead, a ragged right helps guide my eye to the correct line. A single column means I don't have to scroll up and down to read.

A pet peeve: text that is formatted absolutely rather than relatively. Geez, Louise. We read on different sized monitors, at different resolutions, and at different distances. In FIrefox, I'm continually hitting ctrl+ and ctrl- to resize the text for my viewing situation. As a designer, when I come upon a text tagged font size=2, I figure the author is either inconsiderate or ignorant.