Should Reading Behavior Affect Your Design?

F-pattern visual Have you ever asked yourself whether your site visitors actually read everything on your website? Sure you have. And online reading patterns are an important factor to consider when writing and designing marketing, informational and branding content, which is structured and presented differently than longer narratives.

User eye-tracking research has shown that most people initially scan the first few sentences somewhat thoroughly when taking in large chunks of content — resembling the cross-bars of an F — but read less and less as they continue down the page. Eventually, they only skim the content’s left side in a straight line (or its right side in languages that are read right to left, like Hebrew, Japanese or Arabic).
 
Reading patterns are an important factor to consider when writing and designing marketing, informational and branding content, which is structured and presented differently than longer narratives. Click To Tweet
 
F-pattern visualMany of your site visitors will absorb only the beginning of each sentence or paragraph further down a page, a fraction of your content, to find information quickly.

This reading pattern is called the F-Pattern.
 

Based on this behavior, it is important to adjust the structure of your informational content and its design:
  • Place your key content in the first paragraph at the top of your piece (don’t bury the lead!).
  • Then, put the key points at the beginning of each section.
  • Equally important is not to confront your readers with a wall of text but with small chunks that are spaced apart and easy to scan.
  • Put extra emphasis on formulating headlines and subheads (for more on this, read my article on good headline writing practices).
  • Design headlines, subheads, or quotes to stand out visually; your readers will scan them separately.
  • Bullet points/numbering and bolding also help draw attention to important content.
  • Guide your readers’ eyes to what you want them to read. From top to bottom, from most to least important.

So, assist your readers in taking in your informational content with minimum effort. No, that does not mean dumbing down your writing. But it means structuring your content with an extra emphasis on key elements. As a result, your readers might even linger a bit longer and keep reading — as long as you capture their attention fast enough.

But don’t let this approach become the norm. Not every piece of content is meant to be skimmed, skipped, dissected, or scanned quickly. You should still structure your narrative writing so that your readers eagerly hold their breath in anticipation of revelations yet to come.
 
 

You Need Content-First Design

Can Neuro Writing Entice Your Readers?


 
 

Newsletter Signup   

 

I’ll be in your inbox every other Wednesday with actionable content + design tips and tricks, checklists and tools that you can apply immediately. I’ll share with you links to relevant blog posts (mine and curated recommended must-reads) and other engaging content that will help you amplify your message and find the right site design. 

 

 

Copyright © Tekla Szymanski Content + Design LLC. All rights reserved. Please share/quote with attribution.

 

About the author

Content Designer, Editor, Writer and Web Developer for content-rich websites with a global reach. Founder of Content+Design™ LLC. Helping you focus on your content to get your message out.

Why Content + Design™ LLC?

This is your one-stop shop for content-rich websites: content strategy, content design, site care.
Why me, you ask? Most web designers and developers don’t have a content-creating background. And many content designers don’t have creative experience.
I have both.
Together, we’ll amplify your message and adapt the right design to it.

FREEBIES DOWNLOAD

Newsletter

30-Minute Consultation Call

CTA Call widgetLet’s brainstorm how you can improve your site’s content + design with actionable steps.

Certifications

NYS-certified woman-owned business

Google-certified Project Management

Yoast SEO for WordPress

Yoast Structured Data

Yoast Keyword Research

Memberships

Women in AI

 

Online News Association

 

NYWICI Award-winning member

 

EFA Member

 

Ellevate Member

 

Society of Professional Journalists
Freelancer Union

 

National Writers Union

 

PEN Editors Network

 

Pen America

Copyright

Creative Commons License

Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Please share and attribute. Don’t copy. Thank you.