F-Shaped Patterns

The latest eyetracking study reveals some interesting things about visitor behaviour on both the search engines and your website. While the results of the study on the SE-results is not altogether shocking, how a visitor views your site reinforces what I refer to as the “microwave mentality” which works under the principle that you have seconds, not minutes, to get the job done. In this case that job is to let your visitor know that they will find the information they’re looking for on your site.

According to Jakob Nielsen of Nielsen Norman Group, what we’re seeing here (and on websites in general) is a F-pattern. The red is the area of the highest attention, yellow second and blue last. From this we can gather than the titles, and especially the first couple words of your titles are extremely important. They are your ad to the world for the whopping fraction of a second that you have the searchers attention.

There is a lot more information on this including eyetracking images of “real websites”. Take a peek and learn what you can from them. Knowing what areas of your website are going to be viewed by your visitors in the 3 seconds you have to grab their attention will help you make the most of your online presence. SEO can get your website into the results and get visitors to your site but if you can’t grab their attention when they get there you’re not going to get the kind of ROI you’re hoping for.

You can read more on this in a column by Jakob Neilson on the usit.com website at http://www.useit.com/alertbox/reading_pattern.html.

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