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Often times when browsing the web there are multiple instances of pre-filled celebrity bios pulled either form Wikipedia or some sort of information database. This I find occurs mostly on media based website pertaining to music, movies, and entertainment. My question is are users really reading these 5,000+ character bios and is it necessary for webmasters to include all this information if their intended audience only reads but the first few sentences?

Then again what do studies show? A great example of the opposite are the information boxes to the right of google searches relating to entertainment or historical figures. They offer the at most 1-2 sentences and a direct link to the wiki article. Outside of wikipedia itself are users taking the time out to read this copious amount of information when their goals on that particular site lie elsewhere? Is putting this information on celebrity profiles nothing more than filler?

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This doesn't just apply to Entertainment field. There are a lot of times I receive this request from CEOs who want to fit their 5 page bios into the "Team" page. How does this apply universally? I'd like to add additional question to this: Do people read About Us pages? –  Pdxd Mar 24 at 13:12

3 Answers 3

The NN Group published an article about using photos on the web, but it also covers off where people look on webpages with one of the findings covered off a large Bio page - a photo of each of the employees and a brief blurb about them all. All on one long page (the screenshot below is split into three, but in reality it is one long page).

enter image description here

Here, the user spent 10% more time viewing the portrait photos than reading the biographies, even though the bios consumed 316% more space. It's obvious from the gaze plot that the user was in a hurry and just wanted to get a quick overview of the FreshBooks team, and looking at photos is indeed faster than reading full paragraphs.

The inference that could be drawn from this is that, no, people don't read the bios. Even short 1-paragraphs. The first few people here had their photo looked at as well as their name / title, but the description beside them barely got any visual attention. This is still the case when the persons photo gathered a significant amount of attention (as can be seen in the 2nd person down in the central part of this image) - the persons photograph gathered a lot of attention, as to did their name and job title but the actual blurb about them was barely more than skimmed.

Admittedly this is a slightly different situation to the one outlined in the question, but it is actual data about whether users read bio information so is still going to be useful.

http://www.nngroup.com/articles/photos-as-web-content/

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Keep in mind that Wikipedia has the reputation of most accurate biographies. This is why when writing content it is often convenient and time-effective to copy and paste content form Wikipedia. Of course, the real question is why the length?

The answer is arrogance to conversion. Lazy content writers will pull whatever they can to get exposure to niche topics and even -- backlinks. Those who read the bios may not even realize they've read an entire duplicate, hence taking complete credit for copy/pasted rich content.

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"We have it all! T'is all here!"

The goal of every website is to have their users

  • stay on their website as long as possible
  • let them return as often as possible
  • get as many new users as possible

Aggregating information (from who-nows-where) that is only slightly related to the content the user is actually looking for increases the chance of those users returning if they are looking for something similar.

By filling up blank spaces makes the site look professional for some users and even makes the visitors feel smart because "everything is at their finger tips here". Also more content will distract the user from finding or reading what he actually came for.

This is the reason I am always reluctant when websites want me to install their app. Apps are tools. Many websites aren't.

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Not always true. For many sites the aim is for the user to stay on the site as SHORT as possible and carry out a task, to return only when needed and they may have no option but to use it. Even for content site the length of stay may be less important than other factors! –  Stewart Dean Jan 23 at 12:43
    
+1 to Stewart Dean. I would even argue that it would be a more suitable goal to make users stay as little time as possible, as long as their goals are reached. Every item added to a interface not related to the users current goal is taking away from the odds of that user reaching that goal –  magnus.westrom Mar 26 at 11:04
    
Carl mentioned media based websites which I am referring to. They provide entertainment and less GTD character which I think you are thinking of. –  uxfelix Mar 31 at 5:41

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