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?