They don’t; so make web pages scannable
Here’s the title of one of usability expert Jakob Nielsen’s earliest articles on writing for the web.
The first paragraph:
“People read paper,” says TJ Larkin, principal of Larkin Communications Consulting. “They use the web.”
In fact, just 16% of people read word-by-word online, according to eye tracking studies by Dejan Marketing. Remarkably, that’s the same percentage Nielsen came up with in his 1997 study.
So if they’re not reading, what are they doing?
They’re not reading; they’re seeking.
Web users spend most of their time looking for something specific.
According to research findings by Xerox PARC, web visitors:
- Collect 71% of the time. They search for multiple pieces of important information, maybe research for a Writing for Mobile workshop.
- Find 25%. They seek something specific, like “What is this bacalhau they want to serve me for lunch?”
- Explore 2%. They look around without a specific goal — aka “surfing.”
- Monitor 2%. They return to the same website to update information — say, checking CNN for the latest news.
Lift Ideas Off the Screen
Even highly educated web visitors read, on average, just 20% of words on the page, according to a Nielsen Norman Group analysis of 50,000 page views of European computer scientists, psychologists, sociologists, engineers. The stats are even worse for blog posts and emails.
If so, please join me at Reach Readers Online — our 3-day online-writing workshop on July 24-26 in Portland.
In this email-, blog- and web-writing workshop, you’ll learn how to reach nonreaders with display copy.
Save up to $100 with our group discounts.