From F to Z: How Users Read Your Content

When creating digital content, one key thing to note is that people skim on websites. They scan the titles and descriptions for keywords that grab their attention and are consequently, running through the page to see if the content is worth reading. According to the Nielsen Norman Group, this is the result of information-seeking behavior, a cognitive trait that allows users to strategically estimate how much useful information they will get out of a given path. To help your users glean as much information as they can from your content, you need to understand reading patterns.
F patterns
Most users fall under an F pattern where they scan from left to right, top to bottom, and eventually trailing off to only the beginning of sentences

Spotted pattern
Users that interact with content in this manner are skipping content chunks to seek out keywords or visually emphasized elements. You can optimize your content for this pattern by highlighting important keywords and by dividing content into new sections with headings, bullet points, bolding them, or underlining important keywords in long paragraphs.

Layer cake pattern
This is an effective pattern of reading for content that is divided into subheads and lists, where users will pick out keywords from the headings and scan some of the body text as well. To encourage this pattern, use your keywords in the front of the heading and at the beginning of paragraphs to grab attention.

Commitment pattern
This is how we hope most people to read - by taking in almost every word on a page. This reading pattern occurs when people thoroughly read the text. This is when people find the text engaging and want to consume every word. Like how we hope you’re reading this blog!
Examples of the four different reading patterns
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