Writing Style for Print/TV vs Web

27 Jun 2008 (Fri)

ACCORDING TO USABILITY GURU Jakob Nielsen (Alertbox June 9, 2008), the differences between print/TV and Web can be summarized as lean-back vs lean-forward:

  • Print/TV is a passive medium. While reading publications or watching TV, readers/viewers want to be entertained. They are in relaxation mode and vegging out; they don’t want to make choices. People expect you to construct their experience for them. Readers/viewers are willing to follow the author’s lead.
  • The Web is an active medium. On the Web, users are engaged and want to go places and get things done. Users want to construct their own experience by piecing together content from multiple sources, emphasizing their desires in the current moment. 

Therefore, the writing style for Print/TV vs Web is:

  • Linear vs. non-linear.
  • Author-driven vs. reader-driven.
  • Storytelling vs. ruthless pursuit of actionable content.
  • Anecdotal examples vs. comprehensive data.
  • Sentences vs. fragments.
  • Big-picture learning vs just-in-time learning.
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Posted by J.K. in Design, Learning, Technology, Writing | View Comments |

  • http://www.japhy.at Joerg

    Well, he’s right about that, of course. But if you have a look at sites like Youtube or Digg: I think they resemble the TV experience, at least in some way. Of course the user can direct the flow, but he can also do that using a remote control on a TV set …

  • http://www.pressrelease001.com Andy Walpole

    Thanks for pointing that article out to me – I’ve bookmarked if for future reference

  • http://www.onebillionpageviews.org/index.html TV License

    I agree with you somewhat, however on the web there are plenty of sites to “veg out” on. So it really depends on the type of web surfing you do.

  • http://www.ma-dissertations.com Dissertation

    I’m agreed with your statement… and the related article is more useful I think so…. Thanks for the informative posting

  • http://www.opposingviews.com tia

    Hi Guys,

    My name is Tia and I’m an editor at OpposingViews.com, the debate website. Since we both cover technology and Internet issues, I thought I’d drop you a note. I would’ve e-mailed you but I couldn’t find an address.
    See, we’re currently having a discussion about whether or not the Internet should be free. You can see it here:
    http://www.opposingviews.com/questions/should-the-internet-be-free
    Although vetted experts are the ones doing the debating, anyone can contribute by choosing a side and posting comments about the experts’ arguments.
    Check it out and, if you have the time, let me know what you think at tia@opposingviews.com Thanks!

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