Red on Marketing Blog

Scanning: what we see vs. what designers build

Thanks to the growing popularity of eyetracking studies and heatmaps, we now have a better understanding of how readers scan a Web page or an email offer. Notice I used scan instead of read.

No one reads word for word, at least not while we're assessing value. We glance, move our eyes in a fairly uniform pattern, and then move on.

One sweep across the top, a shorter sweep mid-way down, then down the left side. If something leads us, we might scroll down. We're asking, "Is this anything I want - need? Is it worth my time?" And we're fast to decide.

What catches our eye?

  • Anything in the upper left corner
  • Headlines
  • Bullet points
  • Photos of people or products (and captions)
  • Numbers and prices
  • The first two words of a heading, paragraph, or bullet point

If we spot keywords important to us in these places, we're likely to read more.

Be sure to factor in scanning behavior when creating your next website, landing page, or email offer. Despite how well organized and attractive your page may be, your readers will be darting around like fruit flies.

Do we meet all the rules of best practices on this site? What about on yours? Do you find that you scan in the ways described here, or are you the black sheep and scan some other way? Please comment below.

Blog home page ›
Topics: Performance Lead Generation