A successful website is all about getting new people to your site and keeping them there long enough to convince them to come back. Part of what makes this task so difficult is that a truly successful website involves so many different components. Profitable websites require strong content writing, alluring web design, careful planning, dedicated maintenance, inspired marketing, and much more. In fact, there is so much involved in website design that several specialized studies have taken place to determine how visitors read websites. Eye tracking studies show that users most often read web pages in an F-shaped pattern. Visitors to any given site look through a page at astounding speeds. By knowing where the average readers’ eyes travel when the open a website, a webmaster can better design their website to give visitors what they want to see.

Catch Their Attention in One Second

An online audience is very different than any other audience. Visitors graze through sites. While they are moving at fast speeds, they only take small bits of information as they go. This means that you really have to catch their attention quickly. Web readers skim through each headline in only one second. So, in order to get the average visitor to stick around and read your content, your headline has to catch their attention in only one second. So, don’t mess around with your prose. Make things clear, precise, to the point, and exciting. No filler uh’s and um’s. Create headlines that pack a punch so that you can grab readers that last.

This web design expert (http://www.jeroenhoman.com/) has obviously taken into account what eye tracking research has found.

With simple, clear, and striking headings, Jeroen Homan makes it very clear to visitors what they will receive from the site and their services. Because visitors only give a headline one second to really catch their eye, large and precise text and wording are essential to snatching their interest.

Smaller Print Encourages Closer Reading

This tip can be somewhat confusing at first glance. Most would think you want to be big, bold, loud, and abrasive to get people to pay attention. But, as any school teacher will tell you, the quieter you are, the closer your audience will pay attention. The same concept goes for websites. The smaller the type, the more closely someone will read that content. Smaller type is harder to read, which means that your visitors will really have to focus on your print. Larger type promotes scanning. However, be cautious with this trick. You don’t want to shrink everything down just for the heck of it. Make things legible and easy to read. But keep in mind that readers will read smaller type more carefully. Make headlines and titles larger, while the actual content of an article or web page is in a smaller font.

The Red website (http://www.joinred.com/aboutred) has a strong use of small text and clear design.

Notice how these designers use larger clear text to designate the headlines of the page and smaller print for the information that readers really need to know. The use of small print to portray the Red mission ensures that visitors carefully read and examine that specific text.

Headlines Attract More Than Pictures

Eye scanning research shows that readers pay more attention to headlines than they do to pictures initially. This data is somewhat surprising. Many webmasters think that pictures are the trick to grabbing users’ attention over all else. Graphics are colorful and interesting. It has been a trend lately for webmaster after webmaster to load up their pages with interesting and alluring graphics. However, according to the eye tracking study, users respond more immediately to words rather than images. In this way, it can be beneficial for webmasters to load up their front page with headlines. Visitors look for headlines first and then at images on the page. So, use strong headlines that are keyword heavy and grabbing. This will help rank your site better in search engines and attract readers more efficiently.

This website (http://www.plinestudios.com/) is a beautiful example of how to proportionately use graphics and text.

With bold and clear text, Pline Studios for Architecture draws visitors’ eyes immediately to the headlines and links. Visitors of this site will appreciate the beautiful graphics used on the page, but these images will not overpower and drown out the text.