Web visitors want information fast. In response to this, sophisticated search algorithms combined with well-devised SEO and dedicated website landing pages should get them there without frustrating their limited patience.

In a recent Econsultancy blog “Why visitors only read 20% of your web page” Jack Simpson claims that web users will miss out on 80% of page content in order to find the specific information they seek as rapidly as possible. To achieve this, they will scan the page and “Eye-tracking studies have found that the majority of people read online content in an F pattern.”
Eye-tracking studies have found that the majority of people read online content in an F pattern.
The author uses heat map images from the eye-tracking research to demonstrate this and describes the process as:

  • Horizontal movement across the first paragraph forms the top of the F.
  • Second horizontal movement slightly further down that covers a shorter area than the first.
  • Vertical scanning of the left side of the content.

Getting to the point early

Jack Simpson advises content writers to “get the main point of the article into the first couple of paragraphs… You’re not writing a thriller novel, so forget about building mystery and revealing the big twist at the end.

Tell people your main point/s as early as possible and as clearly as possible. Then go into further detail in the rest of the article for those that want to read it.”

Actually, there’s nothing new in this. Anyone accustomed to writing PR releases knows that:

  • Journalists are very busy people
  • You must grab their attention quickly
  • You should give them the essence of the story in the opening paragraphs

Also, if a text of a story needs to be edited, it will frequently be cut from the bottom of the piece upwards. So once again the killer punchline at the end is seldom appreciated!

Different ways of reading

This article gives further good advice on structuring web page content for the convenience of the web visitor, including writing bulleted lists and using descriptive subheadings to signpost information. Because, the author explains, people browse the web to look for quick answers, they “don’t read a web page in the same way as they do a book or a newspaper.” 

We highlighted this very point in a recent article on our website “Can we create more value through search?” with specific reference to a blog by Matthew Gwyther, editor of Management Today, which extolled the pleasures of reading the printed page, including discovering things that you weren’t initially looking for. 

Our belief, as we stated in the article, is that “using well devised design structures and SEO strategies” can create website environments where the visitor can experience a similar added value UX to that offered by the printed media.

Turning F to E

One of the ways of expanding a user’s engagement in web content is through a case history format. Dave Hochman in his MarketingProfs article on building a B2B case studies explains that: “The typical B2B case study created for marketing (as opposed to for academic purposes) is based on the classic "challenge-solution-result" business school format.”

In other words:

  1. The customer has a requirement that needs to be addressed
  2. The supplier comes forward with a solution (product, service, installation etc.) responding to the demand
  3. The result (with quantifiable and anecdotal evidence) is described and analysed in terms of successful implementation and customer satisfaction

The attraction of this format is that it tells a story in which each of the three elements is important to understanding the whole picture.

  • So the web visitor’s habitual F scan technique just won’t do the job.
  • Only a more all-encompassing three-pronged E-shaped scan will take in the information properly
  • More content is therefore absorbed and (if it is engaging and creative) enjoyed.

BBI Brandboost is an experienced and talented team of web and online marketing specialists. Contact us on 01494 452600 or by email to discuss how we can create, structure and present your web content for full visitor engagement!