11 Characters (Or Less)

A new usability study done by Jakob Nielsen confirms the important of the first  2 words or about 11 characters of a website’s links and headlines.

On Web and intranet pages, lists occur in many places, including:

  • Search engine results pages (SERP)
  • Lists of current or archived articles, headlines, press releases, and other news items
  • Product listings
  • Table of contents
  • FAQ pages
  • Bulleted or numbered lists, checklists, task steps on a help page or job aid, etc.

Users typically see about 2 words for most list items; they’ll see a little more if the lead words are short, and only the first word if they’re long. The testing revealed that the best links follow principles for effective Web content.

  • Use plain language
  • Use specific terminology
  • Follow conventions for naming common features
  • Front-load user- and action-oriented terms

Poor link characteristics:

  • Bland, generic words
  • Made-up words or terms
  • Starting with blah-blah and deferring the information-carrying text to the end
  • See the complete results at: http://www.useit.com/alertbox/nanocontent.html