Information layer cake

I recently found Glen Cathey’s blog post on LinkedIn search rankings and something struck me instantly.

This is a long article.

At about five pages, it’s still manageable, but I came to the site wanting answers quickly, and I’m sure the length of the article turns a good percentage of readers off. Don’t get me wrong – it’s great that Glen produces such in-depth articles in a space dominated by “Top 5 Tips”, and even better that he shared it with us all, but I think he missed a trick. Knowing that there a lot of people out there with low attention spans should mean that you have different versions of the text to keep that traffic around.

One site that is occasionally good at this is Wikipedia with the English/Simple English explanations.

Compare the simple Wikipedia explanation of probability

Probability is a part of mathematics. It has to do with chance, the study of things that might happen or might not happen.

with the normal English explanation:

Probability is a way of expressing knowledge or belief that an event will occur or has occurred.

I find the simple English explanation easier to understand, and reading it actually makes it more likely I’ll check the more detailed version.

The fact that I know I can find useful information about a subject, regardless of my literacy in that particular field, makes Wikipedia a more valuable resource for me. I think for us to communicate as effectively as possible, we have to apply that lesson ourselves.

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