Thursday, August 4, 2011

How Users Read Web Sites

Readers decipher web sites differently than they read hard copy. Only fourteen per cent read word-for-word. The other seventy-nine per cent scan web sites, taking in chunks of information that catch their eyes. A Nielsen study showed that on-screen reading is twenty-four per cent slower than reading hard copy. If you are writing for a blog, you may want to consider the following tips.

> Web readers do not move into "lucid reading" or reading for pleasure mode. When in lucid reading, readers slip into an almost hypnotic state; they become entranced and addicted to reading. Web sites do not generate the ambiance for lucid reading.
> Tests show that readers tend to ignore large bodies of text.
> Realistically, readers read about twenty per cent of a web page.
> Most do not read "below the fold", i.e., scroll down.

Eye Tracking Patterns for Web Site Readers
* Readers brains and eyes use an F pattern. They read the first two lines of a post from left to right (in most languages) forming the top, long bar of the F.
* Readers move down to the second paragraph then their eyes travel horizontally forming the second, shorter bar of the F.
* Following that, they scan the left side in a vertical pattern stopping only when a word or a different format is noticed, e.g., change in font, bullets, diagram, etc. completing the long, vertical leg of the letter F.

Engaging Readers
< Use bullets, bold type font, highlights, italics, or underline the most import part of the sentences.
< Write short sentences.
< Start subtitles, paragraphs and bullet points with information carrying words.
< The third word of a sentence is read less when compared to the first two words.
< One idea per paragraph is ideal..
< Use half the words of conventional writing.
< San serif font is more easily read on-line. The lines are crisper and more delineated.

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