Humans are unpredictable, easily influenced and at the same time behave like a herd of sheep. If you’ve just got ready to press the X in the corner of the page over this contradiction of terms, then don’t worry. We realise how ridiculous that sounds. But, it’s important when trying to figure out how users read on the web
We are the most developed beings on the planet, at times anyway, sometimes we are downright stupid (America re: Trump, we’re looking at you), but we have emotions, we have ideas and we have our own personalities.
These are all factors that make us unique as individuals and as a species.
How you read the web though, isn’t as complicated as you might think. But, it is important for professional marketers and website builders like us, and you, to understand.
Here’s another kicker though, remember how unpredictable, easily influenced and sheep-like us humans are? Well, we are also pretty darnlazy.
When it comes to how users read on the web, the answer is; they don’t.
Move your finger away from the cross again and hear us out.
In research conducted by the Nielsen Norman Group, they found that 79% of people scan read pages new pages they would come across. Only 16% percent would actually read a page word by word.
So, if you’ve managed to read this far, then thank you for being in that 16%!
This is interesting because it means that when you are writing content or building pages for general internet users you need a fairly broken up layout.
Most of your users are going to be scrolling and looking for bolded out words, sub headings and lists. Apologies. Let’s do this properly. They are going to be looking for:
The use of bolded out words
- Bulleted Lists
- Hello to the 79%!
Along side these formatting methods, users in the study hated the use of overly fluffy marketing content. Preferring instead direct information that cites facts and isn’t afraid to reference it’s sources through the use of hyperlinks. 
Understanding these things is crucial for anyone looking to construct a website. It doesn’t even vary much between the type of website it is either.
It’s likely, that an ecommerce website is going to make more sales if it contains a more fact-based approach to its offering, keeping information tight and informative.
As with anything though, there is a fine line. You need to consider the end benefit of the user also. So, whilst concise, broken up content is important, if you’re selling jumpers it’s still good to use some emotive and interesting language.
Here’s an example of the difference between what some websites still do and what they should do:
Women! BUY OUR JUMPER TODAY. Our wooly jumper is the best wooly jumper in the world and simply the best value that there has ever been on the planet and it’ll arrive tomorrow. Impress family, friends and even your pets with this ultra value, hyper impressive wooly jumper! Buy now before they are all gone!
Here’s how you should go about creating a web friendly way of selling to the user. Remember, they’re lazy and generally only interested in how this page can benefit them:
Women’s 100% Wool Jumper
Feel like a new woman and battle the elements in our latest wooly jumper. This jumper will keep you feeling snug right through those dreary winter months!
- Thick organic wool
- Quick shipping
- Lowest price guarantee
Which did you prefer? And remember, that most users are going to be reading on a mobile. So which takes less effort too?
It’s not the most interesting example, but you get the point.
The research and rabbit hole of how users read the web doesn’t just stop there either. There’s always new technology and new styles of websites coming in and out.
But you should always try to stay at the forefront. By employing a good web developer and content writer you’ll see a reduction in bounce rate, increased time on page and better conversion rate.
If you want us to look at your site and see how we can help you with your site, then drop us a message here! – Nielsen Norman Group, Applying Writing to Web Pages Research