Friday, February 04, 2005

Your First Glance At A Web Page

When you look at a new web page, where do you look first?

The left side is usually a menu. The right side typically has ads. The top has a masthead and maybe a banner ad. What part of the page are you going to check out first?

Here's what the Web Style Guide says: "The first thing the reader sees is not the title or other details on the page but the overall pattern and contrast of the page." - Web Style Guide

If you have a poor quality, or jumbled looking web page, you'll loose visitors before they read any part of the page. The page must be easy to scan and understand. So before you even start worrying about where a user looks, be sure you have quality, easy-to-understand pages.

Let's look at some eye tracking studies:

Some studies show most visitors will look at the middle of a web page first.

"In Western countries, people read from left-to-right. Our eye-tracking software shows that testers tend to look at the center of the screen first. Then they read the page from left side to right side. So testers see the main text first, not the global navigation scheme. Likewise, the search engines also view the main text first, not the global navigation scheme." - (WebPro News)

Based on the above, visitors base their decision as to whether they'll read more, or move on to the next page, on what they see in the middle of the page.

In another research study, done for news sites, they found that people start in the upper left and move into the center. They look at the logo to identify the site, then scan headllines. This makes sense for news because vistors would first want to determine the authority of the site by seeing whose site it is. Then they look for news. - (Eye Tracking on News Web Sites)

Although visitor behavior will vary, depending on the target market for the web site, in general the center of the web page, in the area above the fold (no scrolling required) is the most important part of a web page. This is where you should put an attention grabing headling, product pictures, and special offers. Whatever you want to be sure is a part of a visitor's decision to stay or leave, should be placed in the center section of the page.

People are usually looking for information, so they first look at the text. Use a headline in the center of the page to quickly let them know what the page is about. Remember, visitors make quick decisions about a web site, so keep keep headlines simple and direct.

Once you have a good headline, it can be followed up with a sub-heading that describes the benefit visitors get if they read the page.

For example, if you have a web page that promotes the Kaizen system for improving productivity, a good headline and sub-heading might be:

Complete Online Guide To Kaizen

Kaizen Improves Productivity Over 190% In Two Years

Don't you want to read more and learn about Kaizen?


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home