How do people use the web?
External links are shown with a "".
People use the internet to easily find, understand, and use information to complete a task. Unlike print media, people do not read entire web pages. They scan instead. Nielsen and Morkes, in a famous 1997 study, found that 79 percent of their test users always scanned any new page they came across; only 16 percent read word-by-word.
Even with more people using the web, the percent of content that is read on a website has not increased by much. Here are some facts to consider when writing web content:
- In a 2008 study, based on analysis of 45,237 page views, Neilson found that web users only read about 18% of what's one page.
- As the number of words on a page goes up, the percentage read goes down.
- To get people to read half your words, you must limit your page to 110 words or fewer.
What do web users look at?
Since we know web users scan web pages, we need to learn what they look at.
Users often scan pages in an F pattern focusing on the top left side of the page, headings, and the first few words of a sentence or bulleted list. On average, users only read the first two words on each line. Also, users can decide in as little as five seconds whether your site is useful to them.
Here is an image of one of the eye tracking pages. The red shows where the user looked the most: