Legal information and technology

Less can be more

tipsEver find yourself leaving a web page because the amount of information there seemed overwhelming? You're not alone.

When you create online public legal education and information (PLE) materials, keep in mind that people usually skim over web pages rather than reading the whole page. This may be because people tend to read much more slowly from a screen than from paper.

But whatever the reason, it's important to focus on your essential messages - when writing online, less is usually more.

Some tips for designing online PLE:

Be brief

Present your information in small chunks - especially in the opening pages. No one likes scrolling through long sections of text when searching for information.

Longer pages may be okay for the main text. People don't mind scrolling down once they've found the information they're looking for.

Make information easy to scan

People generally scan in an F pattern - which means that information at the top or left-hand side of the page is read more often than anything else on the page.

Put important information first

Make sure people read the most important information by putting in the top two paragraphs, or in bullet points on the left-hand side. That way, if they don't scroll down, they still get the key points.

Make keywords stand out

Draw attention to important words in a sentence by putting them in bold type. But don't overdo it - too much bold text makes it harder, not easier, for the reader to understand.

See CLEO’s Better Legal Information Handbook for other clear language writing tips.