or every online teacher and trainer it might come as a surprise that their students and trainees read about 20% of their online material, often only scanning the pages for the information that pertains to their concerns. Despite the fact that more people are using the Internet in recent years, this behavior has remained consistent.
Today’s “Hot Topics Wednesdays” blog describes the findings of Dr. Jacob Nielsen who suggests that F-shaped pattern has been shown to be most effective for readers, as this is their natural reading pattern online. F-shape stands for “fast” and for the two horizontal stripes followed by the vertical stripe of reading. This means that:
- Users read the top first, often the top bar content.
- Users read below the top bar content to get a sense of the page.
- Users review the left side’s menu.
The following picture demonstrates this pattern:
Heatmap images that demonstrate F-shape pattern of reading online text
The picture above reflects heatmaps from user eyetracking studies of three websites. The areas red colors show most popular parts of the content; the yellow areas reflect fewer views, blue areas are least viewed, while gray areas did not demonstrate any eye fixations.
While this pattern does not match the reading patterns of all users, knowing where the reader will look for information can help you in writing and designing the web content of your online class. If you are not aware of the F-shaped pattern, this can lead to troubles with Web page use as readers might not read the content thoroughly, and leave out most important information.
Therefore, since readers might skip your content online, you should state the most important information in the first two paragraphs and start subheads, paragraphs and bulleted points with the information-carrying words that will be placed within the F-shape.
I hope these findings will help you design your online content to be more easily readible by your students.
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