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Learn how to adapt your content to improve user experience

How do people read your content on your website? It’s tempting to think that they simply read it, but making any assumptions about user behaviour, as in other areas of online marketing, rarely pays off! However, what does pay off, is keeping an eye on your audience’s behaviour patterns. Doing just that, will help you optimise your content for maximum interaction.

The Content Challenge in the Digital Age

Text content has always been and will continue to be a highly effective mode of communication. Despite the fact that videos and images appear to be stealing the show, text remains a trusted and reliable source of information.

Blogs, case studies, reviews, professional whitepapers and other text based content types are all considered important. Although the value of text material has not altered as a result of the digital age, how people consume it has. This is due to the massive amount of content that individuals are exposed to on a daily basis.

Google presently stores 56+ billion website pages, and did you know that 30+ new articles are published on WordPress blogs throughout the world every second? Of course, many people visit the same few websites and apps on a regular basis, but the amount of content they are exposed to is still enormous.

According to the University of Southern California, the average person receives the equivalent of 174 newspapers each day! But, since we can’t expect people to consume that much data, how can they decide what stuff is worthwhile?

Online User Behaviour

It would be a mistake to believe that off-screen content is consumed in the same way that digital content is. Humans are amazing adapters to changing settings, and they’ve developed strategies for determining what content is worth their time and what stuff isn’t, which they often do subconsciously. For good cause, one such approach is known as the F-Shaped Pattern.

The F-Shaped Reading Pattern

We write sentences in the hopes that people would read them all the way through. The normal internet user, on the other hand, just reads sections of your sentences. The NNGroup conducted a study that looked at how users moved their eyes across different websites. The most common reading pattern was in the shape of a ‘F.’

F-Shaped Reading Pattern

Following the eye movements of 232 persons, it was discovered that users begin reading from the left and work their way across to the right, as expected. However, they swiftly scan the material, reading only halfway across the screen.

They begin to only take out a few words from the very beginning of phrases as they travel their attention down the page. These readers are focusing on only a few sections of the book to determine whether it is of any use to them. They’re looking for keywords that will keep them interested without requiring them to read the entire piece.

Content Optimisation

The best method to optimise content based on this reading pattern is to:

  • Use headers and subheadings to break up your text.
  • Divide the text into parts.
  • Make use of bullet points.

Headings and subheadings, in particular, are critical. User engagement is significantly increased when they are differentiated by size and colour. Headings and subheadings indicate whether the entire text, or even a piece of it, will be of interest to the reader. As a result, the text for headlines should be carefully chosen and tailored to your ideal reader.

Now that we know that readers pay the greatest attention to the text at the very top of the page, reading across the entire width of the text at this point, it makes sense to make every effort to get your above-the-fold content to interest them.

The inverted pyramid structure is one approach we find very effective. There are various opinions as to what is the best way to start your writing, and one method we find highly effective is the inverted pyramid structure. You should begin your piece of text with your conclusion in this structural style – start with the most important information and elaborate on the finer details in the latter sections of the text.

It’s not just for written content

Of course, user behaviour should be recorded not just for text, but for other formats of online information. You may have noticed, for example, that many online videos now feature subtitles. This isn’t always a localisation issue, where a marketer is trying to appeal to a variety of target groups that speak different languages.

It has been proven that individuals frequently watch online videos without sound. According to statistics, 85 percent of Facebook videos are watched silently. Why? This behaviour is entrenched in the platform’s operation, as Facebook was built to not play video sound by default.

However, with 55% of people watching films in their entirety, it’s clear that people are opting not to turn up the volume, even when they find a movie they enjoy! A habit has developed, and astute marketers have adapted quickly.

Conclusion

People’s interactions with online content have altered over time, and it’s crucial to keep this in mind when developing your content strategy to improve user experience. After all, if your website fails to intuitively respond to users’ expectations, they may easily find another piece of content on another website to meet their needs.

The solution is to adjust and review your content on a regular basis, and the only way to do that successfully is to stay on top of your users’ behaviour patterns.

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