Did you know that when people visit a page on your website, they almost never read it from top to bottom? That’s true even when they are extremely interested in what you have to offer.
Whether it’s the content about your after school program or a blog post, it’s important to understand the reading habits of the people who visit your site so that you can format your content accordingly. If you do, it can dramatically increase the number of leads you get – and the number of students you sign up.
The F Pattern
In school, F is a failing grade. But when it comes to internet readability, F is actually the letter you want to see. Why? Because it mimics the way people naturally read web content.
A study from the Nielsen Norman Group found that the majority of people read web pages in an F pattern, meaning that they skimmed across the top of the page and then down the left-hand side. They also routinely skim across when they encounter a subheading.
What does that mean for you? Simply put, your content needs to begin with a clearly stated thesis and then use informative subheadings and formatting to draw attention to the things that are most important.
Using the F pattern makes it more likely that visitors to your site will be able to find the information they need quickly.
The F pattern can help you in terms of overall structure, but it’s not the only thing you can do to increase the readability of your web content. Here are some other suggestions.
- Use formatting to highlight important words and phrases. The human eye naturally stops when it seems something different. If you bold important concepts or insert hyperlinks to back up your assertions, those things are more likely to be noticed than plain text.
- Make content scannable by using numbered lists and bullet points. If you use a numbered list, like this one, begin with a short sentence with few words that highlights your main point. Then, you can elaborate if necessary.
- Break up the text with photographs and graphics. You don’t have to use graphics on every page, but it can certainly help, particularly with longer content.
- Keep your content as brief as possible. Stick to one central thesis, prove it, and wrap things up.
The key takeaway here is that you can control how easy it is for users to read the content on your site. When you format properly and cater to users’ natural tendencies to skim, you’ll increase the number of leads you generate and grow your school.