People have brief attention spans when it comes to absorbing websites, pages and online content. It follows then that your web copy should fit into the average user’s reading behaviour. If you abide by this simple rule, then you’ll eventually get more site visitors, greater conversions and more engaged users.
Skimming a website prior to focusing on a specific section
Visitors spend, on average, 2.6 seconds skimming a website before focusing on a specific section. Here are a few suggestions to direct your reader’s gaze online:
- Use numbered and bulleted lists
- Use subheadings so that readers can find information easily
- Use shorter, less-intimidating paragraphs
- Use bold, italics, or pops of colour to highlight important information
- Put important information in images
How the F-Pattern works
The term ‘F-Pattern’ illustrates the most common user eye-scanning patterns when it comes to chunks of online content. ‘F’ stands for ‘fast’ as that’s how users read your content. In a number of seconds, their eyes move at incredible speeds across your website page.
F has the following three elements:
- Users initially read in a horizontal movement, typically across the upper section of the content This initial element constitutes the F’s top bar.
- Next, they scan a line down the left-hand side of the screen, searching for aspects of interest in the paragraph’s first sentences. When they find something which is of interest to them they read across in a second horizontal movement which typically covers a shorter area than the previous movement. This added element forms the F’s lower bar.
- Lastly, users scan the content’s left side in a vertical movement.
So, when writing out your content for the web try to apply these principles as it will assist you with creating a design:
- With good visual hierarchy, and
- That individuals can scan easily.
An F-shaped layout feels comfortable for the most Western readers as they have been reading top to bottom and then left to right for their entire lives.
How to use the F-shaped pattern
Prioritise your content
Before arranging the elements on your website page, prioritise the most and least important ones. When you know what you would like your users to see, you can simply put them in the pattern’s ‘hot spots’ for the correct interactions.
Set initial expectations
The initial two paragraphs are the most critical. This means that you need to put the most important content near to the top of the web page as possible to communicate the website’s (or page) the objective quickly.
The user will normally read horizontally across the header, so this is a good place for a navigation bar.