F-You: Web Content Read in an F-Shaped Pattern

Reading from the web is different than reading hard materials. Heat maps used in eye tracking studies reveal people typically read web pages in an uppercase F-shaped patters: two horizontal stripes followed by a vertical stripe.

Since web pages are read differently, they must be written differently to optimize their use.

According to usability expert Jacob Nielsen, it’s important to remember a 3-S approach to web writing:

  • Succinct – write no more than 50% of what you would write for hardcopy.
  • Scannable – key information should be visible in the first two paragraphs.
  • Short – people hate scrolling; use links to split information over multiple pages.

Crafting compelling prose that convey key messages can favorably influence visitors, affecting your bottom line.

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