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Part of: Content design

Page design

Last updated: 25 February, 2020

A lot of elements are involved in designing content presentation on a page, or across multiple pages.


Divide content up into short paragraphs. Chunked content is easier to absorb as smaller units of content are easier to process, understand and remember. Text divided into distinct visual units helps users scan. 


If you have a page with several paragraphs, organise the paragraphs with sub-headings. These should indicate what the paragraph is about. This helps users scan page content for what they are looking for.

Bullet points

Use bullet points to split up long sentences.

They should:

  • complete a sentence,

  • be front-loaded with the most important information,

  • start with the same language element, like verb, noun, adjective,

  • be grammatically correct. 


This function allows you to present content in expandable sections. 

The GDS design system provides advice, HTML coding and usability research for accordions.

If your CMS does not have accordion functionality you could consider using anchor links.


These are a useful way to join together content on the same topic which is too much for a single page. Use chapters for different sections.

You can give the top page of the guide a super H1 heading and the sections H1s, so that Google picks up each individual section. 

Feature boxes

These allow you to promote a particular part of your content. If you change the background colour or font colour, check the contrast passes WCAG requirements


A content tool is content that users interact with in ways other than reading.


These examples are all inclusively designed.

Images, infographics and videos

If you decide to present content as images, infographics and videos, make sure it is inclusively designed:

  • images, use alt text if the image contains useful information

  • infographics, provide a text version of the infographic

  • videos, provide captions on the video and a full transcript

Usability evidence: page design

'How Chunking Helps Content Processing', Kate Moran, NNg, 2016

'Web style guide', Chapters 10. Editorial Style, Lynch, P. and S. Horton, 4th edition, 2016


'Communicating in style', Joshi, Y. TERI: The Energy and Resources Institute, 2003

'Letting Go of the Words: Writing Web Content that Works', Redish, J., Boston: Morgan Kaufmann, 2nd edition, 2012

'Guidelines for Document Designers', Redish, J.,1981, new 2014 introduction. Online PDF.

'Don’t make me think, revisited. A common sense approach to web usability.', S. Krug, 2014

'Content Strategy for the Web', Kristina Halvorson, Melissa Rach, 2012

'Clout: the Art and Science of Influential Web Content', Coleen Jones

'The Web Content Style Guide', Gerry McGovern, Rob Norton, Catherine O’Dowd, 2001

Journals, open access

‘Reading to Learn to Do’, Redish, J. C.,  IEEE Transactions, 32, 4, pp. 289 to 93. 1989. Online PDF.

'The processing of organizational and component step information in written directions', Dixon, P., Journal of Memory and Language, 26, pp. 24 to 35. 1987

'Guidelines for authoring comprehensible web pages and evaluating their success', J. Spyridakis, 2000

'Quicklist for authoring comprehensible web pages', excerpt from J. Spyridakis, 2000

'The effects of adding motivational elements to user instructions', Loorbach, N., J. Karreman, and M. Steehouder, Professional Communication Conference Proceedings, 2007. IPCC 2007. IEEE International. 2007

'Adding motivational elements to an instruction manual for seniors: effects on usability and motivation', Loorbach, N., J. Karreman, and M. Steehouder, Technical Communication, 54, 3, pp. 343 to 58. 2007

'Cognitive constraints on multimedia learning: when presenting more material results in less understanding', Mayer, R. et al., Journal of Educational Psychology, 93, 1, pp. 187 to 98. 2004

Journals, locked

‘The instructions clearly state . . . Can't people read?’, Wright, P., Applied Ergonomics, 12, 131 to 142. 1981. Locked.

'Designing procedures as a foundation for instructions', Jansen, C. and M. Steehouder, Professional Communication Conference, 1997. IPCC '97 Proceedings. Crossroads in Communication. IEEE International, 1997. Locked.

'Hypertext Segmentation and Goal Compatibility: Effects on Study Strategies and Learning', Dee-Lucas, D. and Huston Larkin, J., 1999. Locked.

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