High-lighting the Important Information

These days it is inevitable that job-seekers, like everyone else, will spend time looking at web pages. Web pages, like the other things we read, can be informative. Unlike most other things that we read on paper, web pages can also be very colorful in the way that information can be displayed, or high-lighted.

But remember, the information the author thinks is important, as well as the way that information is displayed, may be different than what the reader thinks is important. How that important information is displayed in the text, no matter what that text is on, might not be perceived as important by the reader.

Here is an example:

An instruction manual for one of my recent projects used black text on a gray background to emphasize something important. Since it also used black text on a gray background for titles and sub-headings, I gave it about as much importance as one gives a footnote in a novel or history book. In other words, I did not give it much attention at all. Big mistake! Fortunately I caught this mistake soon enough, and was able to correct the installation within a couple of days, at a cost of about 6.5 hours.

How do you determine which information is important, and which information is not important, when you read text books, installation manuals, job postings, or web pages?

Do you simply go by how differently (either in bold or in italics) the information is displayed on the page? Or does something in a larger (or smaller) font size, or a different color, catch your eyes?

One of the things I like about reading the blog posts on this website is that the color of the text is black, and the background color is in white. The only color variations are the titles, which appear to be in the “teal” color, (and larger, too) and the pictures.

I have to admit to being “old-fashioned”, having learned to read books whose printed text was black on white, and also, somewhat visually challenged, wearing trifocals. The glasses help, but I still have to make frequent use of the “ctrl” & “plus” key combination in order to make the text large enough, even when I read text on any website. However, I am not to the point where I have to ask for the large-print bulletin at church.

Have you noticed that some web pages display text in print that is hard to read because it is too small?

I’m not sure if this is because they are trying to put as much text as possible on the web page so that you don’t have to scroll down much in order to read the entire page, or, if it is because they don’t want you to read those items that they feel obligated to put on the page (also known as a disclaimer, or “the fine print”).

When I first started using the internet, I naively thought that from that time on small print would only be found in the classified ad sections of newspapers, and in legal documents. Unfortunately, that is not true.

So, again, how do you determine which information is more important, and which information is not important, on each of the various items that you read?

Dave Vandermey is a web developer.

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