How Users Consume Information - Leta Fritz
In A Nutshell: Short and juicy content that is in the user’s face will typically be successful.
The idea behind this post originated around the idea of having to place content on a website “above the fold” and how the “fold” has changed drastically now that the web has gone responsive. But rather than focusing on the “fold” itself, focusing on how user’s digest content holds more importance and can dictate decisions around the content strategy of a site.
Users no longer have the patience they once had. Information is consumed in a much higher volume, making the ability to capture a user’s attention more competitive.
Jakob Nielsen* found that 79% of users scanned website instead of reading them word-by-word. He goes on to state that using some of these techniques can help to simplify information on the web:
- Text should be scannable. Use bullets, sub-heads, and highlighted keywords to simplify thoughts.
- Keep your thoughts short and sweet. Only cover one idea per paragraph.
- State your conclusion first, there is no need to beat around the bush. Get right to the point.
The challenge behind enticing a user to interact with a product does not just apply to the web, but to any experience a user enters. An experience with a website, an email, a printed card, or even a toy are all similar in that the designers goal is to inflict an emotion onto the user and encourage an action.
On the web, scrolling is an action that is becoming more common with our mobile and tablet world. Avoiding false bottoms and creating indications that a site has more content for the user simply lets the user know that there is more to be seen/read on the site.
Many sites are using arrows transposed over a hero image or within their main hero images to indicate to the user that by moving down more content will appear. Typically, by clicking the down arrow the page automatically scrolls down to the next section.
Using lines to visually encourage the user to scroll is another common theme. With large hero images as a popular design choice, content is being pushed further down the page. With users spending an average of 10-20 seconds on a page (and content being found further down the page) having an intriguing element that entices a user to scroll is key to getting content to the user.
Tinke’s site is using indicators on the right hand side to tell a user where they are on the page. A different circle is highlighted based on the user’s location. By showing the number of different sections (each section represented by a circle) the user knows how much remaining content is on the page.
Put it on the testing block: Tinke’s site has many false bottoms. Even in this screenshot, just showing the first section, it appears that there is nothing else on this page. The indicators on the right hand side do not seem as apparent as maybe they should be and if a user does notice them, the meaning of these is very vague.
Circular indicators are often used as a visual representation of different slides in a carousel of images. Tinke uses these same indicators, but as page navigation. By orienting the indicators in a vertical position they are mimicking the movement that will happen (an up and down movement) when clicking the icon.
Content strategy married with design help to determine experiences that are easy, understandable and most importantly unnoticed. Finding a balance between strategy and visual representation present a brand. Creating branded experiences that truly reflect a company is what builds brand loyalty.
*Jakob Nielsen’s article on How Users Read on the Web http://www.nngroup.com/articles/how-users-read-on-the-web/)
The sites shown above are basic examples that have not been officially tested, but describe my general thoughts on content strategy and design.