How to Deal With Web Visitors Who Do Not Read
Unless you have a content-first website like The New York Times or a juggernaut of a blog like TechCrunch, people don't come to your site for content. Don't misread that: some of your visitors may well consume some of your content, but most of them don't visit your website with the intention of reading. Nielsen indicates that users have time for about 20 percent of the content on your page, which affirms that the majority of users don't read. Rather, they scan.
The last thing you want is for your website to look like a book or magazine (again, unless you're a content-first website). Not only do your visitors have the attention span of a gnat, but their brains are inherently lazy. That means that large chunks of text on your web pages make visitors feel that they're being asked to do a herculean task. So how do you make sure your web pages come across as "simple" and "easy"? Try the following:
Draw Their Attention to Things That Matter
Steve Krug says it best: "If your audience is going to act like you're designing billboards, then design great billboards."
Since you don't have the luxury of having visitors’ full attention, you have to maximize that tiny fraction of interest they have. After all, they still need what they need, and you still need them to transact with you. Given that visitors generally don't read, you need to work with the tools you have:
1. Layouts: Use the "F pattern" to prioritize. People scan from top to bottom, from left to right. If you have voice-of-customer tools, figure out the tasks people are trying to perform on your site, then use those to prioritize from top to bottom, then from left to right. If you just have traffic monitoring tools, use those to figure out what people visit most on your site, what items visitors buy the most and which categories are most popular. Then, from your homepage, prioritize accordingly. Don't leave their ability to scan your website to chance.
Tim Ash is the author of the bestselling book Landing Page Optimization, and CEO of SiteTuners. A computer scientist and cognitive scientist by education (his PhD studies were in Neural Networks and Artificial Intelligence), Tim has developed an expertise in user-centered design, persuasion and understanding online behavior, and landing page testing. In the mid-1990s he became one of the early pioneers in the discipline of website conversion rate optimization. Over the past 15 years, Tim has helped a number of major US and international brands to develop successful web-based initiatives. Companies like Google, Expedia, Kodak, eHarmony, Facebook, American Express, Canon, Nestle, Symantec, Intuit, AutoDesk and many others have benefitted from Tim's deep understanding and innovative perspective.
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