Redish Chapter 9: Including Useful Headings

Headings – these are the signposts that help guide the visitor to the information they seek. Good headings apply the appropriate writing style for the topic. Questions, statements and verb phrases are the most effective heading style. Noun phrases are useful in certain circumstances, such a label. The best way to identify what type of heading to use is to keep the conversation with the visitor in mind.

Using examples of what not to do is the most effective way to really understand a topic. Redish shows us good and bad practices, so we can see the difference. The most effective technique is to look at the information and design from the visitors’ point of view. If it makes sense, is easy to navigate and answers visitors’ questions, then the headings accomplish the task. Failure to take the visitor into consideration is a violation of basic customer service standards. If you want visitors to stay or return, give them what they want, the way they want it. Don’t scare them away, or they’ll never return.

Most of the complaints about poor site headers (or lack of) is simple common sense. For instance, there are sites with poor headings that tend to try to cram tons of information into a small space with very little effective organization. On the other end of the spectrum are the minimalist sites. Minimalism is great, it helps the reader find things fast and navigate easily. But, going too far in the minimalist direction can create as many issues as too much information. By following basic principles of professionalism, the KISS principle (Keep It Simple Stupid) and writing for the visitor, effective headings will ensure your information is used in the way it is intended.

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