Our Web-Writing Hero: Jakob Nielsen

Some superheroes have capes, others have strength or speed… but our favorite hero has an even better power: a sharp editing eye for concise writing. Hey, it’s almost like laser vision, right?

Jakob Nielsen  "The Guru of Web Page Usability" (New York Times)

Jakob Nielsen
“The Guru of Web Page Usability” (New York Times)

Jakob Nielsen has been a famous champion of web accessibility since the 90s. To this day, when clients ask us about online text, we reference the article, “Applying Writing Guidelines to Web Pages.”  Published in 1998, it shares timeless advice for concise web text. Here’s an excerpt:

A common thread between conciseness, scannability, and objectivity is that each reduces the user’s cognitive load, which results in faster, more efficient processing of information. (Concise text contains less information to process; scannable text calls attention to key information; and questioning the credibility of promotional statements seems to distract users from processing the meaning, our earlier studies showed.) Thus, our aim was to rework existing Web pages so that they would minimize cognitive load and enhance speed and efficiency.

Have questions about writing for the web? Wondering if the text you have on your site is your “best foot forward,” or thinking about making a change to improve your online writing style? Consider talking with us about our editing services. We help clients with blog writing, press releases, newsletters, web copy, and more, and we’d be happy to provide training or seminars to help your team solidify their online writing skills.

Images from NN/G, Nielsen Norman Group, available at

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