Before you swear at me, let me explain why – and how.
Website usability guru Dr Jakob Nielson has conducted detailed research into how we view and interact with websites. In one study he hooked up 232 website users to eye-tracking equipment, and documented their eye movements as they visited thousands of sites.
While research had already proven that we scan website copy rather than reading it word for word, Dr Nielson’s research went one step further and actually established the scanning patterns of website users.
And hands down, the dominant reading pattern was in an F shape.
The F-shaped reading pattern
1. Top bar of the F. First of all, website users read horizontally, generally across the upper part of the page.
2. Lower bar of the F. They then move down the page and make a second horizontal eye movement, which tends to cover a narrower region than the first.
3. Stem of the F. Finally, website visitors scan the page’s left side in a vertical direction.
It’s not all F’d
Not all web-readers follow an exact F pattern when they scan a website, sometimes they follow an E pattern, an inverted L pattern or some other pattern. But in general, it is roughly an F-shaped pattern.
Want more articles like this? Check out the website content section.
What does this mean for your website copy?
It means that if your most persuasive website copy is strategically placed in scanner-friendly areas, then it’s more likely to make a sales-inducing impact. Put simply, you are more likely to convert your browser into a buyer!
How to make your website copy F’d
Below is my personal guide. It isn’t an exact F pattern, but it’s fairly close, and it works well for most people.
- Punchy headline: Write an attention-grabbing headline that hooks the casual reader.
- Introductory paragraphs: Write one or two concise introductory paragraphs that include your most vital information. Important note: with websites, never leave the best information till last. Blast the reader with your gold nuggets first because they’ll rarely take the time to read all of your carefully crafted copy!
- Bullet points: Include a list of bulleted points underneath the introductory paragraphs. Where possible, load the front of each bullet point with the most important information.
- Summary paragraph with a call to action: Summarise everything with a succinct, final paragraph that tells your reader what you want them to do. This call to action might be an invitation to put an item in their shopping cart, subscribe to your e-newsletter, or phone you for an appointment.
In a nutshell, changing your website copy and its layout could change your website conversion rate too.
So, do you think website copy should be F’d? Share your comments below.