The Main Reason People Aren’t Reading Your Website

Friday, 8 March 2019  |  Posted in: Articles  |  4min read

How much do you read online? According to this report by research specialist EY Sweeney, in 2017 it was found that on average, Australians spend almost seven hours a day on their devices. But how much are you actually reading? Apparently not much.

When you’re looking for something online the process of searching for that information generally involves exercising as little effort as possible to get it quickly. And with seven hours a day spent on your devices, you’re an expert at finding what you want. It’s estimated that the average user reads as little as 20% of text on a page in their search for information.

So although they aren’t reading your website, most people go about finding information the same way. There are two Scanning Patterns commonly used to find the information we want. Next time you’re browsing, take a moment to notice how your eyes are moving across the page.

 

Scanning Patterns

 

F Scanning

The F Scanning Pattern is commonly used when presented with a text heavy web page. Typically, the first line is read then the left hand side of the page is scanned downward until the user finds a relevant keyword and reads that line before scanning downward again, repeating the cycle.

 

Z Scanning

The Z Scanning Pattern is the commonly adopted method of scanning pages with little text. Starting in a similar fashion to the F Scanning Pattern, the user first scans across the top row of the page from left to right, then down the page diagonally and finally left to right again.

 

How We Use Them in Web Design

All this scanning poses a problem for website designers and content creators: how do we make sure website visitors aren’t missing the information they came to find? The simple solution is to give users what they want, where they want to find it.

A number of web design techniques can be utilised to make the F Scanning Pattern work in your favour rather than against you. Take the following site page for example.

 

This information page we built for Philmac features the following techniques to prioritise content using the F Scanning Pattern:

  • Important information at the top of the page
  • Short and concise paragraphs
  • Distinguishable headings and subheadings
  • Bullet points

Similarly, we prioritise content in non-text based web pages by following the Z Scanning Pattern. Take the following landing page design for Cavpower as an example.

 

The page is laid out to clearly present the user with information they may be looking for and to encourage further discovery and engagement.

First we offer a logo for context, then the main menu bar as the user glances across the top line of the page. Next we present a bold image and call to action that draws the user’s eye towards it as the page is scanned down diagonally. Finally, a bouncing arrow encourages the user to scroll down and discover more as they scan the bottom line of the page.

Given that the website is responsive, the layout adjusts to best suit the device in which it is viewed. However, the same Z Scanning optimised layout is used every time.

 

Helping your visitors find what they’re looking for

Easy to scan, familiar page layouts are just one of the ways in which website designers create appealing sites and make your information accessible. Effective utilisation of Scanning Patterns can help determine the actions a visitor takes on your website. Good web design places information where you expect to see it, so you don’t have to search everywhere to find it.

So does it matter that people aren’t reading your website? Not at all, because we make sure they find what they’re looking for.

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