How users read on the web

They don't.

Studies have shown that, rather than read word-for-word, almost 80 percent of users scan web pages, looking for visual clues so they can find content quickly. They look for things that stand out – bold text, bullet points and descriptive headings. They are busy and want to complete a task or find information quickly. e.g. register for a conference or find out the Library opening hours. It makes sense to present web pages in a way that helps users.

Tips for helping site visitors

  • Locate the most important text at the top so users don’t have to scroll. (According to a study by web usability expert Jakob Nielsen, users spend 80 percent of their time looking at the top of the page.)
  • Break up paragraphs of text with meaningful (not clever) headings
  • Write simply. As a general rule web content should have less than half the word count of conventional writing
  • Use bullet lists to help break up content
  • Avoid the promotional writing style or welcome messages that are often prevalent in opening paragraphs. Users usually skip over them. Get straight to the point!
  • Placing images at the top of the page forces users to scroll to get to important content, so priority should be given to ensuring that this content can be more easily accessed.