Ever since the dawn of the Internet, people have sought different ways to make use of this revolutionary technology that has managed to completely change the world of communication and the way business is conducted. Nowadays, anyone with a computer can set up their own website and run their own online business, from the privacy of their home or office.
However, merely loading your website with content doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be able to attract sufficient traffic.
A recent study conducted by the Poynter Institute, the Estlow Center for Journalism and News Media, and Eyetools examined the way people view websites, in an attempt to discover how to improve their design in ways that might benefit website owners, seeking to keep their viewers’ attention. Here are some of their findings:
Follow the F Pattern
According to the study, the top left-hand corner of a web page is the first to attract a viewer’s attention. There may be a few exceptions, but this is generally the first place a person’s eyes will go, when they first click on a page. Generally, people tend to read from left to right, scanning pages rather than actually reading them, more heavily at the top than at the bottom.
This results in an “F-shaped” pattern in which the eyes gradually focus more on the left side, as they move down the page. The implication here is that your value proposition is best located horizontally along the top or vertically, along the left side and your call to action is best placed at the bottom right-hand corner.
Font size and Images Influence The Readership
Additionally, 95 percent of test subjects viewed all, or at least part, of introductory paragraphs that were either printed in bold type or a larger font than the main text. This implies to the reader a sense of importance that they’re likely to pay more attention to, when they’re scanning for words or phrases that grab their attention. These paragraphs are best kept short and in a single column.
When it comes to headlines, the bigger, the better. According to the study, bigger headlines draw more attention, especially when they’re located in the upper-left corner. Most web users tend to scan quickly through the headlines, often looking only at the first couple of words, so the real attention-grabbing words are best placed at the beginning.
Large, crisp images appear to be more likely to grab a viewer’s attention, than fuzzy, smaller images. Additionally, models who resembled “normal” people seem to be more appealing than those who have the look of professional models.
Another interesting finding is that when pictures of smartphones are used, Apple products appear to draw more glances than Android devices. Devices such as the iPhone and iPad drew the greatest amount of attention, with glances lasting over two seconds.
Don’t Forget Left & Bottom
Because of the tendency to place more attention on the left side of the page, traditional layouts that place vertical menus along the left-hand side have proved to be quite successful.
Although most attention is paid to the top half of a page, many studies show that the bottom half also gets a significant amount of attention, as viewers tend to scan this area for an indication of where to go next.
Make It Count
First impressions are formed within two-tenths of a second and most users will spend about 2.6 seconds scanning, before they find a section that grabs their attention. The sections that drew the most interest were the logo, the navigation menu, search box, social media links, the site’s main image, the written content and the bottom of the website, in that order.
For the average website owner this may seem like a lot of detail to absorb, but the payoff in web traffic and being able to keep your visitors interested enough to share your content is well worth the effort.
In today’s competitive business world, the websites that keep up with the latest studies like this one, are the ones most likely to succeed and retain their visitors.