Join Ann Wylie for her in-person training session, “Web Writing Boot Camp,” on Sept. 21, 2012 9 a.m.–4 p.m. EDT in New York, N.Y., and learn how to make your posts personable, and write dramatic, compelling status updates that draw followers and get clicks.
In the headline for one of his articles, usability expert Jakob Nielsen asks, “How do users read on the Web?”
“They don’t,” he answers in the first sentence.
If you’re lucky, then your Web visitors may scan through your site, searching for specific facts and key ideas. But they aren’t reading. Check out these research results:
- Half of all Web users scan content instead of reading methodically, a 2007 eyetracking study by the Poynter Institute found.
- Visitors read only 20 percent of the words on a page, according to a 2008 analysis of nearly 50,000 page views by European computer scientists, psychologists, sociologists, engineers and other professionals.
- Visitors view most Web pages for 10 seconds or less, concluded four German researchers who studied those 50,000 page views.
- Fewer than one in 10 page views extend beyond two minutes, the same German researchers discovered. That included unattended browser windows that users left open in the background.
It’s enough to make a Web writer toss his or her laptop out the window.
But you can reach these online scanners if your page will pass the “skim test.”