The F Word (And Why Your Content Needs More F’s)
Relax, I’m not here to deliver some big sermon on swearing, or tell you that you need to pump your copy full of expletives in order to be noticed. Nothing like that. Today, I want to talk about a whole different type of ‘F’. You see, people don’t read in straight lines on the internet. They don’t go from left to right, reading every single word in the line before going down to the next line. Instead, we read in a distinct ‘F’ pattern – and you should be using that to design your website and its content.
What Is The ‘F‘ Pattern?To sum it up, the ‘F’ pattern is the most common eye scanning pattern of people reading blocks of content online. To go a bit deeper (because you didn’t come here for summaries), it’s how your users read your content. In just a few seconds, their eyes whizz across your content in a distinct F pattern. We know this because there have been studies done using heat mapping, which shows us exactly where readers eyes go, and how long they stay there. Honestly, it’s pretty cool. It’s made up of 3 components:
- Users read in a horizontal movement first across the upper part of the content area. This forms the top bar of the F.
- Next, they scan in a vertical line down the left-hand side of the screen, looking for headings and points of interest in the paragraphs initial few sentences. When they find something they like they read across in a second horizontal movement, typically covering a shorter area than the previous one. This is the second, lower bar of the F.
- Finally, the users scan the content’s left side in another vertical movement and scan across the full lines when they find something interesting, in smaller, off shooting F’s.