Does it make a difference

Yes. A client let me test different styles in a usability study. We took a press release that had all the features in the table under "typical" and redrafted it to have the features under "web-based information."

For more on this study, see Redish, 2005.

In one scenario of the usability test, participants got to a press release that we had not changed. In another scenario, they got to the one we had changed. (The two press releases were on different topics, but they were similar in length and level of detail. Both were information based on studies that researchers in the organization had done. Both came up as primary choices when people searched the site for their respective topics. So both were acting like fact sheets.)

Many participants noticed the difference and commented spontaneously and favorably about the one that was more like web-based information:

At the end of each session, we pointed out the two press releases again and asked the participants which they preferred. All but one preferred the one with headings and links that was formatted like the rest of the site. The one who differed said: "I always print the web pages I want."

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