Do users really read? — DAY 62

Do users really read a website? And what about the newsletter that you send every week? Do they care for how well you wrote that paragraph?

This is something that have been studied for a long time by researchers in the design, psychology, information architecture and UX fields. The answer, for those who are reading so far, is simple: NO! Even though some of them read your text, the majority only scan your website: 79% according to Nielsen Norman Group. It’s also interesting to know that only 16% read the whole text, and that when talking about email newsletters, these numbers are even bigger for the scanning side of the force.

What to do to improve your page?

Yep, as you can imagine, I’m doing it right now! How many of you just started reading the article right here? Maybe you read the first caption as well, right? This is just one way to make your page more scannable for your users. There are also a couple of other good practices to do that:

  • Adopt highlights. As simple as bolding important words, changing colors, using a different typeface, or just making it in italic;
  • Use meaningful sub-headings. Make your headings and sub-headings communicate one idea by themselves. For those folks who will just read them and try to figure your page out.
  • Oh, yeah, bulleted lists! As you can see, they make everything easier and more scannable, specially when combined with other elements.
  • One idea per paragraph. Let’s face it, if users are just scanning, they will probably read just the couple first sentences in your paragraph. In order to still be able create a story, you better introduce one idea at a time.
  • Start with the conclusion. This is a pretty interesting way to catch the users’ attention. As long as they are scanning, if they understand your point from the begin they are more likely to understand the following paragraphs and get interested on reading everything.
  • Write less in the whole page. Pretty obvious, huh? If you want to make it easier for your users try to write less and keep only what is really important. Be concise.
  • Optimized paragraphs. As your paragraphs are reflecting one idea, you better make it in a succinct and consistent way. You don’t need to be too long with your explanations, you better be short, actually.
  • Use images. Images are a good way to compress information and make it easy and visual for your user. You can deliver more information in a lighter way.

Conclusions

As you are always working to make the users’ lives easier, as well as to increase the ease of use of different websites, rethinking the way the text is written is just one of the aspects to be evaluated. First, of course, the real needing of that piece of text should be analyzed. Researches show that just combining three variables: concise, scannable and objective text, the usability is increased in 124%. This is really incredible, and these are just three techniques to do that. As anything related to people, these results reflect a reality of other products and users, in order to understand how these techniques are performing in your website, a good way to test it is by adopting A/B testing or, obviously, usability testing.

#100daysaboutusers

Roberto Pesce — aboutusers.com

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References

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