Writing for the Web

Online reading is different than reading print media.  Visitors to your blog or website don’t read, they scan, looking for keywords related to their search.

Studies show that online readers spend 4.4 seconds to read 100 words and at most, absorb 28% of posted words.[i]


Readers of online content are destination-oriented, looking for answers to questions, shopping or researching.  Visitors typically don’t surf – randomly looking for information or entertainment.  Visitors will also click on links that appear to help them find answers.  If answers aren’t available on the first site, visitors will quickly more on to another site or blog.

Reading Pattern

Eye-movement studies show that an ‘F reading’ pattern is typically used when reading online content.

  • Users first read in a horizontal movement, usually across the upper part of the content area. This initial element forms the F’s top bar.
  • Next, users move down the page a bit and then read across in a second horizontal movement that typically covers a shorter area than the previous movement. This additional element forms the F’s lower bar.
  • Finally, users scan the content’s left side in a vertical movement. Sometimes this is a fairly slow and systematic scan that appears as a solid stripe.This last element forms the F’s stem.

Consequences of F reading

  • Users won’t read text thoroughly in a word-by-word manner. Exhaustive reading is rare, especially when prospective customers are conducting their initial research.
  • The first two paragraphs must state the most important information. The first paragraph is likely read more than the second.
  • Start subheads, paragraphs, and bullet points with information-carrying words. Users will likely read the first two words and skip the third altogether.

Maximize F Reading

  • Highlighted keywords (hypertext links serve as one form of highlighting; typeface variations and color are others)
  • Meaningful sub-headings (not “clever” ones)
  • Bulleted lists
  • One idea per paragraph (users will skip over any additional ideas if they are not caught by the first few words in the paragraph)
  • Write using an inverted pyramid style, starting with the conclusion
  • Use half the word count (or less) than conventional writing

By Dion D. Shaw

Dion D. Shaw is the founder and owner of Homepreneurs

Homepreneurs.  New Day.  New Opportunity.


Homepreneurs does not endorse nor have any relationships with any of the services listed.  Homepreneurs receives no compensation or consideration for its suggestions.  Homepreneurs strongly urges all interested parties to conduct research and accepts no responsibility for any losses incurred.

© Homepreneurs 2010 – 2012, All Rights Reserved

[i] http://www.useit.com/alertbox/percent-text-read.html

Image credit: http://www.useit.com/alertbox/reading_pattern.html