Determining the proper page length is basically formatting content to best serve your user's needs. You must consider how much content you can fit on each screen, what type of content you are presenting, your audience's download speeds, and how users use your documents. The following guidelines will help you determine the proper length for each Web page.
Relationship Between Page Length and Screen Height
Your page length should be no more than twice the screen height for home and navigational pages and less than four screen heights for destination pages. This improves reading and scanning speeds and prohibits users from becoming disoriented while scrolling. Scrolling pushes navigational elements off of the page, so every page should have top-level navigation menus on the top and bottom. Research shows that users don't mind scrolling through an article to read it, however, scrolling through a page in order to find navigational elements frustrates users and makes information harder to find.
An exception to short web pages is that long web pages are more efficient for users who want to download or print pages (typically articles or reports). If users use pages for both purposes, consider creating online and print versions of each page.
Relationship Between Page Length and Content Size
File size of content also affects page length. Research shows that users will leave your page if it takes longer than eight seconds to load. Therefore, pages that are rich in graphics and multimedia must minimize content to decrease the download times. Become familiar with your audience's bandwidth capabilities so you can determine how much content you can put on a page and still satisfy your users.
Rules Of Thumb For Determining Page Length
Use short Web pages for:
- Home pages
- Navigational pages
- Web pages intended for online reading
- Pages with large file sizes such as higher densities of graphics
Use long Web pages for:
- Pages intended for download and print
- Large listings of links and related content
- Simulating traditional media (media articles and reports)