Maintain eye contact in conversations? That tells us you are a good listener. Seek out eye contact when addressing an audience? That tells us you are a confident speaker. Let your gaze wander like a dude dining with his darling? That tells us you are looking for trouble. The eyes tell us about website viewing habits, too. Eye-tracking studies show that visitors tend to scan a mostly text web page following the shape of an F or a Z.

It doesn't take multiple eye-tracking studies to see where this guy is looking (at an attractive woman passing by).In both cases, their eyes start in the upper left corner and move horizontally to the right. Then they either work their way down the left side of the page (F pattern) until something pulls their gaze to the right again, or they zigzag down the page (Z pattern).

The takeaway from eye-tracking studies is that most web page visitors are not thoroughly reading a text page. They are scanning it in search of key information. This is especially true after they have read the first 200-250 words on the page.

Good page design will grab readers’ attention with visual focal points and guide their eyes through the text.

But writers and editors can also improve the likelihood that people will read more of the text by following these tips:

  • DO keep most paragraphs to two or three sentences, four at most.
  • DO insert subheads every few hundred words or so to break the text into bite-sized chunks.
  • DO place the most important information in the first two paragraphs on the page, especially on a landing page where you want the reader to respond to your call to action.

You are now 271 words into this article. If you are still reading, you have found that it contains relevant or interesting information. That’s the real key: Write things your target audience wants to read and they will read a lot more.

Need help writing or editing for your website or blog? Call Kim Landry at 484-829-0021 or email [email protected].

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