Because of the incredibly efficient and fast rate in which information is disseminated on the Internet, most Internet users no longer read Web content word by word. Instead, users now skim through web pages, picking out keywords and phrases that pique their interest or are relevant to them in some way. Notable studies involving a large group of Internet users showed that close to 80 percent of test subjects settled for scanning web pages. 16 percent of users were reported to read every word of the content they come across while browsing the web.
Countering the Trend
For web content writers, this trend presents a difficult challenge. While the Internet has certainly made the exchange of information easier than ever, the problem now lies in actually getting people to read the content. For this reason, it’s imperative that developers incorporate scannable text into their web pages through the use of keywords that are highlighted, clear and concise sub-headings, bulleted or numbered lists and proper paragraph construction.
If you check the word count of most web content found online, you’ll notice that they have close to half the words of conventional articles. The constant stream of information on the web has also resulted in shorter attention spans, spurning many writers to adopt an inverted pyramid style when writing content. This method involves placing all relevant information in the first paragraph of the copy or article, allowing readers to concentrate on relevant keywords right off the bat.
Appearances are Everything
One of the best ways for users to actually take their time to scan or read content is to exude the “feel” of credibility. “Feel” is especially important for smaller sites, which have to compete with the big fish in order to get noticed. Fortunately, the image of credibility can be improved by creating good and original content, using outbound links to other reference sites and by including images, graphics and videos of food quality.
Dr Jakob Nielsen is one of the worlds leading web usability experts and his work covers many of these aspects here on www.useit.com.