Jakob Nielsen’s new post regarding how to optimize for online visitor’s F-patterned scanning is a must read.Â There’s a lot of sound advice there, many of it confirming or aligning with Future Now recommendations.Â Stuff like:
But one of the article’s baseline assumptions seemed off to me: do website visitors really follow the F pattern regardless of a page’s graphic design and layout?Â What if you’re selling lingerie?Â Wouldn’t you expect a different eye-plot than the standard F-pattern; something closer to this:
The whole point of a properly designed page is to direct and guide the visitor’s attention/eyes where you want them to go.Â That’s why visual prominence is so important to page layout and why people (rightly) spend money testing it with sophisticated eye tracking equipment in order to get these kind of results:
And for more text-heavy sites and pages, wouldn’t skim- and scan-friendly formatting that makes use of bullets, bolding, and embedded links similarly affect or change the F-pattern described by Nielsen? We know the direction of your model’s eyes can affect how people look at your page.
I’d also imagine that just as buying a new car suddenly helps its automotive twins to “magically” appear all over the road, a strongly scented link can allow the reader to notice and pick it out amidst the rest of the text on the page, despite the fact that it may or may not have been entirely front-loaded to maximize the impact of its first 11 characters.
What do you think?Â Do page layout and scent trump (or at least alter) F-pattern scanning?
[Editor's note: the author of this post is now blogging at jeffsextonwrites.com]