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Reading and Navigational Strategies of Web Users with Lower Literacy Skills

Michael Summers, Kathryn Summers

Sparking Synergies: Bringing Research and Practice Together @ ASIST '05 (ASIS&T 2005)
Westin Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina, October 28 - November 2, 2005


Abstract

About half of the adults in the U.S. read at the 8th grade level or below (Kirsch, Junegeblut, Jenkins, & Kolstad, 1993). Yet most websites are written at the 12th grade level or above. The goal of this two-year study was twofold: 1) to understand the differences between the reading and navigational strategies of users with medium to high literacy skills and those with lower literacy skills; 2) to learn how to make web-based medical content usable and accessible for lower-literacy adults, and to develop design principles that could be used to design websites that would meet the needs of both higher and lower literacy users. The study involved qualitative exploration, implementation of design principles in revising a live site, then quantitative comparison of the usability of the original and revised sites.

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