People don't read online

  • 9 May 2019

When online, people read very differently than when they're reading a book or magazine.

Online, people try not to read until they feel they're found what they are looking for, until they reach the content they need. Up to that point they scan, looking for keywords.

People don't read introductory text, instruction text, navigation options... almost anything if they can avoid it. This must be taken into account during website design, and content creation.

There are several ways to try and reduce the problem:

  • Make the word count of each page the minimum it needs to be
  • Minimise instruction text
  • Highlight key words
  • Use lists/bullet points where possible
  • Break up text using clear sub-headings
  • Try to start each page with the conclusion, so that users can decide whether to read the page
  • Use images instead of words where possible, but make sure they are relevant

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