When visitors land on a website’s home page, their attention is like a fleeting butterfly. When writing copy for a website, it is crucial to understand how readers interact with the written content on your website pages. By delving into the statistics and psychology behind readers’ behaviour, we can optimise our copywriting strategies to captivate and engage our audience effectively. In this blog post, we explore the fascinating insights on actual words read, the impact of headings, and the art of skimming.
The Myth of Reading Every Word:
Studies have shown that the majority of online users do not read every word on a webpage. According to research conducted by Nielsen Norman Group, the average user reads only about 20% of the text . While this may seem disheartening, understanding this behaviour empowers copywriters to make their content more scannable and engaging.
The Power of Headings:
Headings play a pivotal role in guiding readers and capturing their attention. Eye-tracking studies have revealed that readers tend to fixate on headings more than any other textual element on a webpage. A study by Eyetrack III found that participants spent more time looking at headings and subheadings than the body text . Thus, crafting clear, compelling headings becomes crucial for drawing readers into the content and guiding their navigation.
Skimming and Scanning:
In the fast-paced digital world, skimming and scanning have become the norm for online readers. Research suggests that readers skim through content rather than reading every word. They tend to focus on highlighted keywords, bullet points, and subheadings. A study conducted by Nielson Norman Group found that 79% of users scan webpages, while only 16% read word-by-word . By strategically utilising these elements, copywriters can ensure that key information is readily accessible and digestible, increasing the chances of engaging readers.
Utilising Visual Hierarchy:
Visual hierarchy refers to the arrangement of elements on a webpage, emphasising their importance. Incorporating visual cues, such as larger fonts, bold text, or colour contrasts, can help guide readers’ attention to critical sections. Eye-tracking studies have shown that users’ gaze is drawn to prominent visual cues. According to a study by Poynter Institute, users’ attention is captured by large headlines, images, and captions . By carefully structuring the content, copywriters can draw readers’ eyes to the most vital aspects of the home page, improving comprehension and engagement.
Engaging Copy and Call-to-Action:
The quality and tone of the copy are paramount in creating a connection with readers. Using conversational and persuasive language can establish a rapport, capturing readers’ interest and encouraging them to delve deeper into the content. Moreover, strategically placed call-to-action (CTA) buttons serve as effective prompts, urging readers to take the desired next step, be it signing up, purchasing a product, or exploring further. Research by HubSpot has shown that personalised CTAs can increase conversion rates by 202% .
Understanding how readers interact with copywriting on a website’s home page is essential for effective communication and engagement. By recognising that users often skim, rely on headings, and focus on visual cues, copywriters can optimise their content to captivate the audience. Crafting compelling headings, utilising scannable elements, and creating a visual hierarchy can significantly impact reader engagement. By continually refining these techniques and staying attuned to evolving user behaviour, copywriters can shape a successful and user-centric web experience.
- Nielsen Norman Group. (n.d.). How Little Do Users Read? Retrieved from https://www.nngroup.com/articles/how-little-do-users-read/
- Eyetrack III. (2006). The Nielsen Norman Group. Retrieved from https://www.nngroup.com/articles/eyetracking-study/
- Nielsen Norman Group. (n.d.). F-Shaped Pattern For Reading Web Content. Retrieved from https://www.nngroup.com/articles/f-shaped-pattern-reading-web-content/
- Poynter Institute. (2007). Eyetrack07: What People Look at While Reading News Online. Retrieved from https://www.poynter.org/eyetrack2007/
- HubSpot. (n.d.). Personalized Call-to-Action Buttons: 202% Better Conversion Rates. Retrieved from https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/personalized-call-to-action-buttons-conversion-rate-optimization