What the F?!
Jakob Nielsen and others conducted quasi-scientific studies which tracked eye movement and dwell times of a number of site visitors to produce a heat-map showing the most heavily consumed (time spent) areas of a web page. The results, interestingly showed that instead of reading the content in the traditional top-bottom approach of printed media, people tend to jump from point to point in an “F” pattern. They start at the headline and usually read most of it, before dropping down to the next big bolded line and reading some of it and finally skimming down the left side of the page, looking for something else to grab their attention. (Why the left i wonder?).
There’s a photo of the heat maps here..
This is pretty interesting as it basically mean that some 80% of web page content isn’t even delivered to the user! The most effective websites will be the ones that recognise this trent and adopt a more internet friendly format instead of just repurposing print content. Ie. Keeping the most important information to the first paragraph, punchy subtitles and headings etc…