How to Deal With Web Visitors Who Do Not Read
2. Page elements: Create fixation points. Eyes scan in a very specific manner. They go through saccades (i.e., rapid skips) and fixations (i.e., points of interest). This is an area where the brain works in a very specific way, and where there are few exceptions:
- eyes visit irregular shapes before regular shapes;
- eyes visit larger objects before smaller ones; and
- eyes can't help but notice faces.
This is why a lot of the time buttons for calls to action (CTA) have slight curves around the edges. This is what determines how large the CTA is relative to the rest of the page. This is why images with faces pointed towards the CTA work. You need to use this and guide users to areas you know they need.
3. Navigation: Keep it consistent. The human brain creates powerful associations and loves predictability. Nielsen likes to say that most visitors spend their time on other websites. Consider the following:
- Visitors don't have the time to learn where all your navigation elements are — they expect them to be at the left or at the top (or both).
- Visitors need to always know where they are relative to the rest of your website, even if they came in through organic search. Use breadcrumbs to inform them where they are, and highlight navigation elements that speak to what pages are active.
You need to think about the user's cognitive load; the amount of information you're presenting matters. Keep it down and keep it focused. You also need to take into account their memory load. Don't make visitors memorize anything they don't need to, and make sure the system is tolerant of their mistakes.
Make the Attention Count
People don't read, but they need something from you. First, remember to use the F pattern to prioritize important tasks. Next, draw attention to the right places. Last but not least, keep everything consistent. Your visitors still won't read, but you'll be helping them accomplish their tasks. That's what really matters.
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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