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Are you Best Friends with the F Pattern?

Eyetracking data shows us how people scan websites and gives us insights on how we can optimize our landing pages for maximum readability. The folks at the Nielsen Norman Group have identified the key points of how people consume website content:

  • Users first read in a horizontal movement, usually across the upper part of the content area. This initial element forms the F’s top bar.
  • Next, users move down the page a bit and then read across in a second horizontal movement that typically covers a shorter area than the previous movement. This additional element forms the F’s lower bar.
  • Finally, users scan the content’s left side in a vertical movement. Sometimes this is a slow and systematic scan that appears as a solid stripe on an eye-tracking heat map. Other times users move faster, creating a spottier heat map. This last element forms the F’s stem.

In a nutshell, the content at the top of the page receives the most views along with the first few words along the left side. How can we use this data to optimize our landing pages?

  • Make sure the important text is at the top of the page. This could be the date/time/location of your event, your call for support, or compelling introduction text designed to inspire people to read on.
  • Add your call-to-action to the left side of the page. This will ensure that your button or link for purchasing tickets or making a donation is in a location where it is most likely to be seen.
  • Keep your text as concise as possible. The f pattern shows us that, the longer the text is, the more of it will be scanned rather than read. If you must have a large amount of text on the page, break it up with headings to keep readers engaged.

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