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15 Must-Know Facts on How People View Websites

Do you know what is the first thing that your eye is drawn to on a website? And in what pattern do people scan your website? There have been many eyetracking tests on this subject and I’ll give you 15 most useful facts you should know.

The picture below shows 3 different websites and where people look on them. Red indicates the area, where people looked the most, yellow areas got a bit less eye-action, blue areas got the least views and the gray areas, well, people didn’t focus on them at all.

f reading pattern eyetracking1 520x231 15 Must Know Facts on How People View Websites

As you can see, the more people scroll down, the more they lose focus and start mainly scanning your website. So always try to place the most important information in the top part of your website.

Here are the 15 facts you should know on how people view websites.

  1. Text attracts more attention than pictures.
  2. People start viewing your website from the top left corner.
  3. Readers ignore banners. Surprise, suprise.
  4. Fancy fonts are ignored.
  5. People only scan the lower parts of your website.
  6. Short paragraphs work better than long ones.
  7. Ads, that are placed on the top or left part of your website, get the most views.
  8. Ads, that are placed inside or below an awesome piece of content, get more views.
  9. Big pictures attract more attention than small ones.
  10. Also headlines draw attention.
  11. Visitors spend more time looking at menus and buttons than other parts of your website.
  12. Lists are better at keeping your reader focused than large paragraphs.
  13. Some people even completely ignore large chunks of text.
  14. White space is good!
  15. Menu works best when placed on the top part of your website.

There you go. Some points from this list are pretty basic and elementary, but a good reminder never hurts. So the next time when you’re writing an awesome piece of content, or building your new website, keep these points in mind. You now have the knowledge – use it!

Sources:

BBC News | directcreative | GoogleBlog

Posted on: August 11, 2011

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84 Responses

  1. top10 November 29, 2012 4:04pm

    God sake i was totally wrong the right side was my favorite. Swapped to the left thanks.

    Reply

  2. Caneta | Videos de Capoeira December 4, 2012 10:10am

    I really liked the guys point on paragraphs and lists to keep the attention of visitors. good article :)

    Reply

  3. Eric – Negocios en Internet December 4, 2012 10:10am

    WOOOW !!
    I have to go update my site with this information, although I can not believe that the text is better than the pictures … great post

    we keep reading.

    Reply

  4. The Women Talk December 14, 2012 12:12am

    I agree with all the points, except text part. I think, websites like pinterest getting popular is because ppl like to see pictures. If text is written in bullets like your post here, then it delivers far better results. Thanks for sharing these great points though!

    Reply

  5. Javi December 14, 2012 4:04pm

    Data says that people look at text longer than at pictures. But I think it is wrong to deduce that text has more impact on your page. It is to be expected that text gets more attention because it takes longer to process a text than a picture. Same is probably true for large images vs small ones.

    Reply

  6. Vips December 19, 2012 1:01pm

    Get all the latest updates for sales & marketing professionals, including tips and best practices

    http://goo.gl/BGExU

    Reply

  7. danny December 20, 2012 10:10am

    Everything in this post is so true I was telling this to a business associate just the other day . I am glad to have come across this post to show my argument is valid thank you

    Reply

  8. Mike Lopez December 26, 2012 3:03pm

    I think over time people’s attention change from one section of the website to another. I remember a time when banner ads were the best, then people got used to it and developed banner blindness. Then came text ads which was so in until people adjusted to that as well.

    The same is true for websites but I do agree that text attracts more than pictures unless the person visiting your site is looking for a picture. After all, people surf the web to read and to watch.

    In the end, there’s no single formula. If you’re a blogger than chances are people will focus more on your text than your photos. If you’re a “photo-blogger” then things might be different.

    Just my 2 cents.

    – Mike

    Reply

  9. Thailand Property December 27, 2012 10:10am

    Really good post and something I must be aware of when designing my new website.
    And probably I need to re-design my old ones a bit too :D

    Reply

  10. Donne Parma January 8, 2013 12:12pm

    Very interesting tutorial.Thank you!

    Reply

  11. Georgia January 13, 2013 10:10pm

    Some of them I knew, some I didn’t. But I’ve seen Google eye heat maps before and they also said the top left and immediate center is the most important.

    Reply

  12. Shireen Louw January 14, 2013 11:11am

    What I have found is that you need to constantly test your design, and try and improve it. What looks good to you might not be the best option for your users.

    Reply

  13. Janice January 22, 2013 8:08am

    Well, I think you have some pretty good facts here..I would have guessed that pictures & banners would be before text.

    I have my sharing buttons on the left side & at the end of my post.
    Thanks for this info, I will keep all in mind..

    Reply

  14. Ionut February 18, 2013 10:10pm

    We used this on our website and it works great.

    Reply

  15. Dillon February 26, 2013 3:03pm

    Great insight again as usual. Testing is key IMHO. Even if you expect certain results, its a good idea to confirm it with monitoring software.

    Reply

  16. Heather March 6, 2013 11:11pm

    A very interesting list! Thanks for the reminder, we often get so caught up in delivering good content that we forget that the layout of the site might mean it doesn’t get read! Interesting to know that text gets looked at more than pictures…

    Reply

    • SherlockOlms March 14, 2013 5:05am

      If you notice, all the example of heat maps had very few pictures in them, in fact only the center example seems to have a significant picture. In that one, it is the picture that draws the attention and not the text on the left side. According to the map, the text on the left is almost ignored. The link to the original authors site shows that his site is all text. I think that people have moved on and become more visual than textual. It would be interesting to see the study replicated with a better mix of text and graphics.

      Reply

  17. Dita Peskova April 6, 2013 2:02pm

    Great article. We’ve got recently an analysis of clicks on our website and I was really surprised how people sometimes click on completely random places, like in the middle of pictures for example.

    Reply

  18. Peeko April 6, 2013 11:11pm

    A superb post, complete opposite to what I was always told!

    Reply

  19. Ray @ The Crude Oil Trader May 22, 2013 6:06pm

    Think I will move some small banners into our body, give it a try. Thanks!

    Reply

  20. Anand Singh June 18, 2013 1:01pm

    Points works more than a paragraph. I just know this facts by reading your points!

    Reply

  21. Alex August 8, 2013 4:04pm

    White space is great! It helps to focus in quickly on what you want to read. I usually check out pictures briefly, but any fancy effects/flash based stuff immediately get ignored, as do advertising banners, and pop-up ads usually force me off the site immediately. It’s just insulting.

    A great list of things, well researched!

    Reply

  22. Brandon Bunch May 4, 2014 7:07am

    Good article and very useful tips. Though nowadays, we can use infographics to draw more attention.

    Reply

  23. Barbara McKinney May 16, 2014 4:04am

    Thanks for sharing these info.I would agree that text attracts more attention than random pictures. However, visuals with text such as info-graphics are very good at grabbing attention when someone is browsing.

    Reply

  24. Ash June 25, 2014 7:07pm

    Most of the people find directly what they want..and they don’t want to read all the content. Study shows that maybe 20% want to read more are girls and 80% read less are boys. Boys are more on analytical thinking

    Reply

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