We read in a F or an E?

Reading pattern: F? E? C?

Reading pattern: F? E? C?

I’m sure content managers must be aware of this fact, but for me it was an interesting find! I have recently started working on a blog on volunteering and I was reading a few articles on what and how do people consume content online. I didn’t quite care about SEO for Lime ‘n’ Lemony or even Weekend Kitchen but for Volunteer Weekly I wanted to know at least some basics. Keywords, meta-description, analytics, web master tools etc were all bizarre buzzwords until now! Anyway one of the studies that fascinated me was that we read a website in a F!
It comes from Neilsen Jakob’s eye-tracking study. What it means?F shaped reading pattern
  1. We first read in a horizontal movement, usually across the upper part of the content area – forming the letter F’s top bar
  2. We then move down a bit and read across in a second horizontal movement which is typically shorter than the first one – forming the lower bar of the letter F.
  3. Finally we scan the left side of the content vertically, thus forming F’s stem.

I was relating it to the way I read all the academic papers also. Most often we used to read the introduction and conclusion and would scan through the rest of the article, reading the heading and sub-headings and would read another one or two sections that would have the analysis. I guess that would make it like an E! and if time was really short we would entirely skip the middle.. making it a C pattern! 😀

Anyway however we read, I guess the point is to put important things right in the beginning! 🙂

Another interesting thing which a web-designer friend of mine told me was on the width of a website – he told me that 980px (or 960px) is the ideal width for a webpages, because that is the width the eye can read without moving from left to right. Any bigger than that and you can’t read it in one go.
Isn’t it interesting how different fields bring out human behavior! Do you know of any other such study? would love to read about them 🙂
Categories: Books, digital living, education | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “We read in a F or an E?

  1. Hmm – interesting! But the 980px can’t be true can it? Shouldn’t it be a big function of screen size & resolution? In which case the number should be constantly evolving – maybe 980px was true in 2007, maybe now it’s 1200px for example! And then there are the tablets where 980px may mean need to scroll!!

    • Ashima

      hmm.. well I didn’t do any search on this but just took it on face value when he told me..and it was true for me (on the desktop). Now it would also depend on reading distance etc..

      but I did come across some posts where web-designers were talking of using a width of 980px. Obviously now most themes are responsive so for tablets and phones, the width gets adjusted accordingly

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