How do people actually view websites?

Jul 21, 2020 | Resources

We all have our own unique way of using the web.  Whether it’s on our phone or laptop, in bed or at the office, in a rush or deep research, our habits are varied and constantly changing.  While it’s tempting to build your website based on your habits and preferences, it makes more sense to look at behavioral studies to prevent us from making a mistake unique to our tastes.

1. The top left corner of your website receives the most attention.  We know this because researchers have studied the eyeballs of website visitors and have found that’s where the user’s eyeball lands first.

2. User eyeballs then follow a Z shape, moving from the top left, to the top right, then down to the lower left, and right again as they progress down the page.

3. Users read copy in “F” patterns.  It’s easy to visualize if you think about skimming.  Users will consume heavily the first few headlines and then skim down the page, paying less attention the further down they scroll.  This is why secondary headlines and bullet lists are effective at grabbing attention.

4. Users like when the first paragraph is larger in font size.  Similar to an attention-grabbing headline, making the first paragraph jump visually out will entice the user to read more.

5. Users don’t look beyond the first page of results.  Speaking about search engines specifically, users rarely go beyond the first 4-5 results, let alone the second page.

6. Users do scroll but you should still put your most important content higher on the page.  There is no “fold” but prioritizing content is key to keeping the user’s attention.

7. Fewer large, high-quality photos are better than more low-quality photos.  Users react better to custom (not stock) high-quality photos with people.

Data without action isn’t going to help your website improve.  Take what you now know about the Z shape, the F shape, and the user’s typical behavior to design or adjust your design and content to take advantage.  While modern design conventions account for these behaviors, content doesn’t always follow the same useful guidelines.  Think about your user, and how to deliver your content concisely and effectively.

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