Have you ever noticed that the way you view a new website and read its content is not the same as if you were reading a book or a newspaper? The reason for this difference is that people scan websites instead of reading every single word. There have been a number of studies conducted to determine the various patterns people use to scan website.

The good news is that you can utilize this information to your advantage in order to help improve your website’s usability and readability. Regardless of the purpose of your website, placing important content in the spots that get scanned the most can help to boost your conversion rates.

How most visitors scan your website:

  1. Majority of website visitors scan instead of reading every word.
  2. The Scanning process is very fast, no more than a few seconds.
  3. Predominantly, scanning is conducted in an F-Shape; top left corner across to the right and then top to bottom along the left side of your page:

The above illustrations or heatmaps, from useit.com, show in red the areas that are viewed the most, yellow demonstrates areas that are viewed less often, and blue shows areas that are viewed the least.

If you take a closer look at these screenshots you will see a letter F forming that demonstrates the shape of the scanning process:

A blog from Envato created this handy screenshot to explain the pattern in which visitors scan your website:

What you might also notice from the heatmap images above is that the size of the F scanning depends on the type of content presented on your page. Images, links and other elements on your page can impact the length of the scan and its shape.

How to use scanning patterns to your advantage:

  1. Make important information stand out — Most readers will not read every single word on your website. It is your job as the website creator to help visitors identify key areas you want them to focus on. This can be accomplished with the right use of typography. Using bullet points, headings and subheadings will help visitors to quickly identify key elements on your website.
  2. Put essential information first — Site visitors are more likely to scan the first paragraph (or two) of your website page. Put the most important information into those areas to ensure it gets viewed.
  3. Use short paragraphs or lists — Large blocks of content require additional concentration and tend to be skipped over completely. Using shorter paragraphs or lists to communicate with your visitors will further help to convey your intended message and improve usability.
  4. Images are imperative — Studies have demonstrated over and over again that images get higher levels of attention. Thus utilizing relevant imagery for the content of your website can also help to improve its readability and contributes to the overall aesthetics of your website design. How to use graphics to enhance your website.

Take a look at your website today and see if there are any tweaks you can make to take advantage of how online visitors scan websites and boost your conversion rates.

About the Author: Irina Kabigting is Webs’ Social Media Marketing Manager. Get more from Irina on Webs’ Blog and Google+.

7 Responses

  1. Reply
    Exclusive Giveaways
    May 11, 2012 - 10:07 PM
  2. Reply
    Movers Baltimore MD
    May 12, 2012 - 08:10 AM

    Good article. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Reply
    Movers Columbia MD
    May 12, 2012 - 08:11 AM


  4. Reply
    Fabian minijuegos
    May 12, 2012 - 02:42 PM

    Good tips i will see to get more visits

  5. Reply
    Jun 29, 2012 - 05:20 AM

    Very useful indeed.
    Hopefully some of my elements here ( http://imiphotoworks.webs.com ) have complied 😉

  6. Reply
    Jul 08, 2012 - 03:24 PM

    Now I do this too. Luckily ive have many pictures on my website.

  7. Reply
    May 16, 2014 - 04:15 PM

    Now I see, so I will not be removing my left sidebar any soon but will definitely reduce the number of links to posts as it seems to deter visitors viewing it from mobile devices.

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