Gaming the system with skim-proof content

Article Highlights:

  • Web users rarely use the internet for reading. They skim, flick, and click
  • Make sure that everything you have to say is communicated in those top few lines
  • Avoid slang terms, idioms, irony, overly descriptive, or potentially misunderstood phrases

Chances are you’re not going to read this article. If you’re like most people browsing the internet, you’re going to skim this. You might read the first paragraph; you will probably glance at the sub-headings; and you may just hit the back-button before you reach the end of the first page. That’s how everyone interacts with your textual content as well. Whether it be website copy, a press release, an email newsletter — and in this day of ever-shrinking attention spans, even your Twitter account — web users rarely use the internet for reading. They skim, flick, and click. There is a way, however, to game the system so that the content you need to communicate gets across to the user in the most efficient manner.

The “F-shape” of reading: Front-load your message
These graphics should tell you all you need to know about how people read on the internet-



The above images are the results of an eye-tracking study conducted by Nielsen Norman Group. Looking at how 232 users scanned thousands of web-pages, the study found that users primarily read in a pattern resembling the letter “F”. The red areas indicate the areas they focused on the most, followed by yellow and blue. The grey areas were not noticed at all.
What does this mean?
Readers will focus first (and often only) on the top paragraph of your content …read entire article