Users Don’t Read, They Scan: Making Your Website Understandable and Scannable

users dont read they scan

Website users rarely read web pages word for word. As the result of a lightning-paced digital environment, scanning offers the immediate gratification that people are constantly seeking. Research shows that on the average web page, users will only read about 20% of the text. That means that your website needs to adapt and get straight to the point for attracting and intriguing your target audience.

Website Scanning Patterns
An eye-tracking study performed by Nielsen Norman Group showed that users primarily read websites in an F-shaped pattern. First, users read in a horizontal movement across the upper part of the content area. Next, they move slightly down the page reading in a second horizontal movement that covers a shorter span than the previous movement. Finally, users scan the left side of the content in a vertical movement forming the F’s stem. Typically, the third motion is slower and more systematic.


The colors in the heat map images indicate the areas users viewed; red areas show the most viewed, yellow areas display fewer views and blue areas have the least views.

What does all this mean? Users don’t read text on web pages thoroughly. If they do, they spend time reading the first two paragraphs containing the most important material. In addition, text-heavy paragraphs need to be separated with visual breaks that engage readers in the third stem of their F-shaped reading behavior.

Make Your Website Scannable
Optimizing your website for scannability and creating content that doesn’t get skipped over starts with experts who have the skills to strategically entice readers and scanners all over the Internet. Proficient web designers possess full working knowledge of the F-pattern and the ability to produce a layout that provides perfect content placement for scanning. Working in tandem with designers, qualified web copywriters craft catchy headlines and adeptly communicate key concepts or ideas. When you leave scannable website design to the experts, your results are exponential.

Creating websites that are easy to read and scan without sacrificing credibility is an art form. On our own website, we incorporate short paragraphs with key concepts, stylized differentiations and an abundance of visuals to keep users engaged with our content. Creating a distinct and unconventionally attractive web appearance captivates an audience’s attention and encourages them to learn more.

You deserve a website that highlights your business and delights your target audience. Appleton Creative is an award-winning, full-service advertising agency that specializes in Orlando web design services. Appleton works with local, national and international clients to deliver powerful, responsive websites that are specifically designed to be seen first in search engines. Reach your target customers in the right places and establish highly qualified leads with a dynamic and accessible website. Your web design and development goals are worth a conversation: contact us at 407-246-0092 or

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