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Situation

I am making a website which purpose is to sum up (including all spoils) books, video games, series etc ... The goal is for people to catch up with the story if :

  • They didn't play the last game for instance and want to know what happened
  • They just forgot some details and want to be reminded

Question

As everything is based on these summaries, what is the maximum size that a user could bear to read ? It has to be complete but short enough for the user in order not to be discouraged. Is there any known study on the topic ?

8

This is a tricky question and the answers would definitely not give you a word count. The reason being that the user's reading habits and concentration thresholds are very erratic on the internet

If you want to find out more about this, this is a good article.

What could you do (other than keeping the word count low)?

I'd suggest breaking down the summary. Have it broken down into sections like:

Story Recap

Recaps don't have to summarize the previous game, movie or video. They need to focus on the most relevant or the most attention seeking moments.

What you need to know

This section could highlight only the parts that are carried over from the previous part to the sequel. Just the bare bone knowledge jotted down in points.

Story Synopsis

Summarize what the point of the previous story was and what was conveyed. This could be 1 to 2 paragraphs long depending upon the depth you want to go into and on how dense the story actually was.

Reviews and accolades

Let's face it, this immediately has a huge impact. Reflect the IMDb, RT, Metacritic scores for movies/TV shows with some top reviews for movies. IGN ratings for games and View count, Like count for videos and copies sold, bestseller rankings, etc for books.

  • Thanks for your answer. Breaking down the summary could be interesting, but I don't really get the differences between your different parts, don't they mean the same thing ? – Shashimee Jun 22 '17 at 13:15
  • Let me try to clarify. Story Recap is like a compilation of short clips (5-10 sec) of the most important scenes. What you need to know is like bullet points containing just the spoilers/what the user needs to know to move forward. Story synopsis is more detailed summary (1-2 paragraphs) of the movie/series/episode/game. Hope this helps you distinguish between the 3 – Shreyas Tripathy Jun 23 '17 at 5:58
  • Hi thanks, I get it now. But what about "what you need to know" ? Isn't it just like story recap ? – Shashimee Jun 23 '17 at 7:22
  • Now that I think about it, yes. It's nearly the same thing. Sorry about that. I guess you don't need to put all these sections. Just pick the ones that are relevant and if something seems redundant, then leave it out – Shreyas Tripathy Jun 23 '17 at 9:07
  • @Shashimee To me, I think Story Recap would highlight / summarise what you would have got out of the first game if you had played it yourself, but is written "in isolation". What you need to know lists the things that will help you in the next instalment. So: if the first game had a dramatic plot-twist, that was "important" to that game, but knowledge of the twist is not needed in the second game, it would go in the first category. A (seemingly) minor event from the first game, but that is needed (or at least helps) in playing the second game, might only be in the second category. – TripeHound Aug 11 '17 at 11:14
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+50

Rather than thinking about maximum length, focus on maximising engagement and readability by using appropriate headings, typography (line length, font size, line height, etc.), and producing high-quality content.

Headings

Headings for each series/game will likely vary. For example, if the series is heavily dependent on geography (think: Game of Thrones), you'd likely want a section highlighting plot points in each area. However, there are two headings that will likely exist for all games/series: Summary and Characters.

  • Summary

    • An overview of the entire game / season
    • the major plot points
  • Characters

    • A list of the characters, and their major plot points in the season

As Shreyas suggested, I'd strongly recommend breaking the summary into chunks. However, chunking is just the first step. To ensure readability, you have to pay close attention to your typography.

Typography

You have to make it easy to read. Here's a great article on how people read, including recommendations for measure, font size, and line height. To summarize:

Measure (a.k.a. line length)

  • Aim for between 45 and 85 characters per line
  • 65 seems to work very well

Font size

  • Both too big and too small create problems
  • Size of font will depend on the viewing device
  • On a desktop, use at least 16 px for body copy

Line height

  • The horizontal space between your lines
  • No perfect line height, but 150% of your font size is a good guideline

Content

In addition to the text descriptions, depending on the available resources, you might consider adding additional content.

Video summaries

Having video recaps of each game or season might be helpful. Some people prefer to watch videos than to read. With a transcription, users can search the video to search for specific information.

Visual timeline Another thing to consider is adding a high level visual timeline of the series / show. This would require some graphic skill, but would provide a high level overview of the major plot points in the series at a glance. I'm envisioning a chart, with the x axis as time (start to finish). Each season could have a slightly different coloured background, and the major plot points (for each character, region, or whatever is appropriate for the game/series) are plotted along the Y axis. You'd have to think through this in more detail, but it would provide a quick synopsis of the plot without requiring a bunch of reading.

I think the most difficult part of your work will be to condense the material to provide a summary, but hopefully some of these ideas are helpful.

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I think Shreyas answer covers everything here, and the article they posted was a good read.

I'd just like to add though, to take into account your users:

What kind of gamers are they?

If they are playing games where they usually read a lot of text, it's probably not going to be an issue. But if they are more, fast-paced action games, you'll need to take that into account, and break it up and make it more entertaining to read.

Also think about

You want to keep users on your site for as long as possible, and have them click through everything etc. get them navigating all the links. If it's a lot to read they might skip it entirely, considering they can just go and play the game instead - if that makes sense?

1

My researchurfing tells me people are willing to read up to 3000 words if the article contains quality in-depth content (links below). Given that most summaries are much shorter than that, I don't think you have much to worry about as far as maximum length.

A few examples of <1000 word summaries I pulled from TV Tropes:

  1. A 830-word summary
  2. A 160-word summary
  3. A 644-word summary

As far as UX goes, I second what others are saying about making your content easy to parse and navigate.

Ultimately you won't find the sweet spot for article length until you test your content on real users. I recommend instrumenting your site and tuning based on real data once you have something working.

Research on optimal word length:

Snap Agency says:

As you can see, the ideal length of word count vs. average organic traffic is sitting pretty at 2,250-2,500 words.

Source: https://www.snapagency.com/blog/whatll-be-the-best-length-for-a-blog-article-in-2016-for-seo

Lean Labs quotes:

Medium reports the ideal length of a blog post is 7 minutes or 1,600 words.

The average American reads at about 300 words per minute.

SERPIQ reports that from an SEO perspective, the top 3 Google results are between 2,350 and 2,500 words.

Moz reports that posts between 1800 and 3000 words attract 15 times more links.

Neil Patel has found that posts of at least 1,500 words earn the best SEO, social sharing, and engagement results.

Source: https://www.lean-labs.com/blog/the-ideal-length-for-business-blog-posts-when-less-is-more

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