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Queen's University

Web Standards and Accessibility Guide

Document length

Recommendation: Excessive page scrolling should be avoided on Queen's University web pages.

When determining the length of a web page, savvy web developers will keep in mind that market-research testing has revealed over and over again that web users tend to scan text rather than read it fully, and that users are generally not inclined to scroll vertically (and even fewer will scroll horizontally) to see what else lies on a web page. This inclination is mediated by factors such as the age of the end user and the kind of information the user is seeking. Determining page length is, at best, a subjective decision, because of several other factors, including screen size, screen resolution, and user font-size choices, that have a direct impact on the final display for any given user.

Document authors and page developers should, however, keep in mind some basic principles while determining the amount of content that will end up on each web page. When authoring a document on a computer, content creators create one file, which may consist of many pages. When moving this content to web-based delivery, they must remember that one file cannot necessarily be considered one web page./p>

When authoring your documents, identify appropriate breaks where the user can "go to" the next page. As a general rule of thumb, anything beyond 400-500 words should probably be spread over at least two web pages, but again, this break must be both appropriate and logical. Use headings, sub headings, and paragraphs as logical break points.

Finally, when content spans numerous web pages, ensure that appropriate internal navigation exists so that end users can proceed through the document as easily and quickly as possible. Because of deep linking, a user may not start on the document's first page, but on any of its pages, so each page of a document should contain enough information and navigational elements to orient the user.

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