There’s actually a reason for all the pictures…

December 4th, 2007
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I had someone ask me the other day why most of the posts have a whole bunch of images in them, many indented to the side of the text and others between text segments. Actually there is a reason for this, beyond just illustrating things. I’ve actually found this through trial and error.

It can be rather annoying to read text on a computer screen, especially when it’s relatively long. You look at a pig page of text and almost gloss over it because it looks daunting. Maybe you skim it or pick at parts, but there’s just something about reading long messages online. I’ve found that the reason that taking on text on a website is so much different than a book or magazine is that it’s hard to keep track of placement. When you have a physical page you physically move it and in general, you also have a better spacial sense of the page.� It’s also broken down into pages.

You don’t get this from text on a screen and it’s very easy to loose your place with the scroll bar or to loose your place at the end of each line. This is why when you look at a page of text it looks like an excruciatingly long read even if it’s really not. There are ways to avoid this. For one thing, skipping lines between paragraphs, as opposed to just indenting is critical in text intended for the internet. The other thing is to provide some sort of spacial reference. Formats like PDF try to do this by creating individual pages which you scroll through. But another effective way is to add illustrations, photos, asides and bullet points. This actually serves two functions. Not only can it be a visual representation of the information but it breaks up the page and provides the brain with a layout which is easier to follow. The images, indentations and headings act as reference points to allow easier visual navigation of the text.

In addition to making the text easier to read, it makes it seem less like a long string of information and more appealing to the reader. This helps encourage people to actually take a stab at reading the passages. And that is the point, after all.��� This passage doesnt have any illustrations.�� See what I mean?�� And it’s not even that long!

This entry was posted on Tuesday, December 4th, 2007 at 1:15 pm and is filed under Announcements, Depleted Cranium, Website. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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3 Responses to “There’s actually a reason for all the pictures…”

  1. 1
    DV82XL Says:

    Oh for pity’s sake Doc, you don’t need to justify what you do on your own blog just because some random fool asks a question like that! It’s not as if the pictures are out of context or anything, and yes I do like the visual break they afford. Please keep it up.

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  2. 2
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Naw it’s not that, someone asked and I figured I’d mention it as an opportunity to impart some of my experience in web stuff. Pure text just gets visually difficult on a monitor. So I’d recommend that anyone else who writes for the web consider putting in some bullets or asides or something, because it’s a nice discrete way of making it visually easier.

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  3. 3
    Dylan Says:

    I like the pics. Actually I’m glad you mentioned it because I did not notice before this, but yes, it does help break up the text a lot and makes it much easier to read from a visual sense.

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