People Don’t Read Online… And What That Means For Your Blog
By: Taylor Davies

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People don’t read online.

 

Well, not that closely, anyway. Studies have shown that the average Internet user is much more of a “scanner” than a reader, meaning they are looking for key words and ideas then quickly moving on. Not exactly encouraging to those of us trying to entertain “readers” on our blogs, is it?

But blogs are different, right?

 

One might argue that blog audiences and general users of the Internet have different reading habits, and this very well might be true. Our loyal readers set aside time for catching up on our blogs, which might mean reading every, single, carefully chosen word. However, assuming our average reader has time for that may hurt us and them in the end. (We spend too much time, they miss the valuable information.)

By looking at the statistics and tendencies of the average web user, we can make our sites more visually appealing and more likely to be helpful, entertaining and sharable to new and returning readers alike.

What the Internet loves:

 

  • Easy-to-spot key words in bold or hyperlink form
  • Text that is aligned to the left side
  • Bulleted or numbered lists
  • Short bursts of text (and one idea per paragraph)
  • Important content above the fold

 

Web users spend 80% of their time looking at content above the fold (everything you can see before having to scroll), and also  prefer text that is aligned to the left, spending 69% of their time on the left half of a web page. Jakob Neilsen did all kinds of research on the “F-Pattern” of web users eye movements. Basically, users’ eyes move from left to right in two swipes then down the left side of a web site.

How this information can help your blog:

 

  • If you want users to click on your ads or widgets, consider putting your navigation column on the left, rather than the right.
  • Nix any center-aligned text in your posts to help your readers digest your content more easily.
  • Use headings, bold words and lists to break down post content.
  • Get to the point of your post right away, don’t hide it somewhere in the middle.
  • Capturing your reader’s attention earlier makes it more likely that they will scroll past the fold.
  • Pay attention to the left side of your site when incorporating graphic design elements.

 

Do you think it’s important to pay attention to statistics and studies about web users when creating blog content? Do you use some of these tactics on your site already?

Sources:

Comments

  1. Avatar of Sofie - Little Makeup Face
    Sofie says:

    Great advice!

  2. Avatar of Khadijat Yussuff

    I think it also depends on what the content is. I know that when people are doing road trips and all that, it’s more interesting to read stories.

    ♥, Khadijat

  3. Avatar of rita
    rita says:

    doesn’t it impact google scan/search/something when the navigation is on the left?

  4. Avatar of Pamela Jones
    Pamela Jones says:

    This is truly depressing, especially considering the effort I just put in on a post tonight! But I know it’s true, I don’t have time to read everything either! I’m redesigning and changing the nature of my site soon so this is great information to have. Thanks!

  5. Avatar of Alyssa Tomasic

    I never really noticed it before, but now I realize that even I do that when I am reading anything (blog, magazine, book, etc). Something has to catch my eye in order for me to keep reading. Thanks for the tip!

    http://www.bellalurosa.com

  6. Donna says:

    I actually do read blog posts and articles online. If I’m clicking onto a blog, it’s almost always because I follow it and am interested in the title of that day’s post. Likewise if I’m going to a web site it’s because I saw an article that sounded interesting, or I did a web search so of course I’m going to read the results.

    But I do believe that most people are just scanners. I also think photos are a must. I used to do posts that were all text, but they don’t draw the views like posts with photos. Good to know about the left-aligned text, etc. I do pay attention to research about viewers habits, I think it would be silly not to!
    Donna
    http://www.prettysparklythings.blogspot.com

  7. Avatar of
    Linnie Tam says:

    Hey!

    I can definitely relate to this, I’m a huge skimmer, I try to designate time to read blogs that I absolutely love but for the most part I just love looking at the pictures. This is why I try to make my pictures the highlight of each post!

    http://garfunkelatmidnight.blogspot.com/

  8. Avatar of Lydia
    Lydia says:

    I think it depends. If you are a loyal follower of a blog, I think these things don’t matter much. But if you’re just starting out as a blogger, it might be useful to consider these statistics.

    ravenmaidenmaven.blogspot.com

  9. Avatar of Hey Mishka
    Hey Mishka says:

    True words!

    When I find the content I set out to find, I will read (a lot). But if I’m just browsing, I don’t bother much with the text. This is because sadly, I don’t have much faith in bloggers to write in a witty, engaging voice. Sometimes I am pleasantly surprised, but more often…

    Though, if I’ve been to a blog a few times and I love the way they write (as with blogs like Bluebird (http://bleubirdvintage.typepad.com/), I will read giant gobs of text without a second thought.

    I love reading with a cup of tea — books, blogs, business guides, whatever. As long as it’s great writing and something drew me to it to begin with.

  10. I didn’t know this! I’ll be switching from center aligned type. Thanks!

  11. Avatar of sacramento
    sacramento says:

    Most interesting. Thank you and happy 2013

  12. I try to keep my content as visual as possible, but depending on the post that’s easier at some times. When I blog about my travels, it’s easy to create a lot of visual content, because the pictures are what carries the post. If I want to write about a more abstract concept, though, it suddenly becomes hard to find visuals, especially if you try to only use your own photography. I’ve actually shied away from writing about certain things, just because I don’t know how to make them more visually appealing for readers. I’ll definitely apply some of these tips here!

    xx
    Melanie Fontaine

  13. Avatar of Kimberly
    Kimberly says:

    All so very true. I know that I certainly don’t read the text on blogs unless I want to know where something is from. So I forgo on my fashion blog, and the freelance articles I write are generally lists.

    Although there’s a value in cutting your posts, and just including a main photo and/or a few thumbnails out side of it (wendy’s look book does this best imo) because it can increase your page views. But then again there’s also a value in a lot of text when it comes to search engine rankings. It’s all about balance.

    http://oohlaluxe.net

  14. Avatar of Karen Buckley

    this is quite and interesting subject, as i find that certain friends of mine will openly admit that they never read anything on my blog posts. While others say that the thing they like about my blog posts is the amount of text. So, I think it depends purely on the reader,,,, I think personally I am a mix of both. I like to read some text on style posts, but of course only if its interesting and worth reading! Karen http://www.karenbuckley.co.uk

  15. The density of text on a page should depend in part on the engagement level of the reader. While is a bit dated, there is lots of research indicating that auto manufacturers can get away with text heavy copy. And while your visitors will probably scan your text, the search engine algorithms sometimes give high rankings to text heavy sites. However, in general, I tend to agree with the statement that people don’t read online.

  16. SHONA says:

    Found this useful. Thanks

  17. Avatar of Petya
    Petya says:

    Thanks for this article.
    Now when I think, I do this too…

    http://instyle21.blogspot.com

What do you think?