Yes you heard me. People aren’t reading your content. They have far more important things to do.
So What Are People Doing When They Go To Your Website?
They’re skimming and scanning. People don’t want to be forced to read. They hurry through all the navigation, wanting to get to the page that has what they’re looking for. Even on the page they were looking for, people are still skimming and scanning before they read.
Are You Scanning Now?
OK have a think about this. Last time you were on a website, how much did you want to read? How quickly did you get past the home page of the website you went to?
Like you, most web users are busy people who want to read only as much as they need to satisfy the goal that brought them to the web.
Actually I Just Lied…
People do read online. According to usability expert and consultant Janice Redish, author of Letting Go of the Words – Writing Web Content that Works, people read links, short descriptions and search results. But people want to read those very quickly. They read news, blogs and on topics they’re interested in.
But what’s important to note is this reading is functional. People are not on your website to read the latest Mills and Boon novel (although they have made for fine damn reading in the past. 😉 Your website is there to provide information to people or to do a task. Not for the pleasure of a leisurely read.
And if people don’t find your website useful, they’re not likely to come back and will go elsewhere.
Don’t Let This Happen!
You’re trying to convince your reader to stay and that you have something worthwhile to say whether you are trying to persuade, inform, educate or share information.
- People read links, short descriptions and search results and they want to read those very quickly
- People skim and scan websites. They’re not there to read the latest novel
- Your reader wants to find relevant information or perform a task i.e. book a ticket
Do you skim and a scan? Or do you tend to read everything on a web page? I would love to hear from you so please leave a comment below.
And what were you doing on the Web just five minutes ago? Read the next post and I’ll tell you what most people do online.