Eyetracking studies: scan-reading made obvious

Apart from all the good stuff on web writing in Hoa Loranger's session at Nielsen/Norman Group's Usability Week, it was good to be reminded of just how clear and dominant users' scan-reading behaviour is by seeing a few videos of eyetracking sessions.

 Eyetracking studies: scan-reading made obvious

Again and again we saw readers visit a page and read headings and links, headings and links – sometimes giving a page 2 or 3 scans and looking at nothing but these navigational elements before focusing on a particular area and choosing to read the text. 

We've been teaching people about scan-reading for years, but it can be easy to assume that it's a question of emphasis – that people focus – slightly more on headings than they do in print, or that links are useful aidsfor page navigation. In fact, scan-reading is the only game in town. If you still think meaningful headings and link text, short paragraphs and clear calls to action are optional extras - or you need to convince someone who does – you could do worse than spend some time with the clips below...