Use content design elements such as lists and headings to help people find what they are looking for.
A summary sentence at the top of a page can be used to:
- tell users why they should read the rest of the page
- promote critical or sought-after information.
This summary gives users the ‘why’:
Check which words to avoid to make content easy to understand.
This summary promotes critical information (cost):
Your New Zealand marriage certificate is an official record of your marriage. It costs $33 to get 1 sent to you.
Summary lists of key information
If a page describes a complex process, it can be useful to highlight key information the user needs to know.
At the top of the page, you could include a list of the following information:
- a sentence to describe the overall process.
Order of topics
Put the most important or most sought-after content at the top of the page.
Government content often includes important information a user needs to know before they complete a task. However, your user usually wants to skip straight to the task.
Where there is this tension between the task and what the user must know before completing the task, you can use the elements described in this guidance to make information as clear as possible.
Limit topics on the page
Limit each page to 1 topic to improve readability.
A single topic may include sub-topics. For example, you might have several pages about getting married, a single page on getting a marriage licence, with headings like ‘cost’ and ‘application process’ to break up the page.
Limiting to 1 topic for each page also makes it easier to create a descriptive heading for the whole page. A descriptive heading helps people know what to expect on the page when they see it in menus or search results.
Use headings to break up paragraphs into different topics.
Use lists instead of paragraphs to make text more readable.
Feature boxes or alerts
Use borders or boxes to highlight important information. Make sure they are marked up so screen reader users are made aware of the content’s importance.
The NZ Government Design System describes how to use ‘page alerts’ so you can be sure your alert meets accessibility requirements.
Accordions present content in expandable sections. They can make long pages more readable by hiding sections of text.
However, they are not always appropriate.
The GOV.UK design system describes accordions and when to use them.
- Page design in the Readability Guidelines
- How users read on the web
- F-shaped pattern for reading web content
How to know what the user is looking for: