The less you say, the more we listen

February 18th, 2009

eye tracking heatmap

The Problem

I’ll keep this brief because you’re probably not going to read it all anyway. In fact, that’s my point – web users don’t read, they scan.

The adjacent heatmap shows eye activity on a typical product page. This is fairly normal behaviour and displays what Nielson calls F Pattern reading, after the shape the eyes follow on the page.

The Solutions

So if they’re not going to read it all, make sure they read what you want them to – lose everything else.

  • Steve Krug’s advice in his book is “lose half your words, then lose half of what’s left”. I’d say that’s a good start. Just keep taking out words until every last one is vital
  • Front-load your text – Put the important stuff at the beginning, because people probably won’t get to the end. Screen-reader users especially will skip content if the start isn’t engaging
  • Formatting – Headers, bullet lists and bolding help direct the eye to the important places and are easier to read that large text blocks
  • Practice on twitter – the 140 character limit should help!

2 Responses to “The less you say, the more we listen”

  1. [...] an earlier post, The Less you Say, the More we Listen, I suggested keeping your copy short and sweet. That’s one way of keeping it simple, another [...]

  2. Developer says:

    It really depends on the type of website though – Im sure information websites or blogs are actually for reading, rather than scanning. Maybe if you are trying to make a sale, it would be good to reduce text, but when providing information – content = good.

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