The F-shaped pattern for reading web content
Eye-tracking studies have shown that when someone reads or scans text, they scan in the pattern of the letter “F”. Readers move their eyes in a horizontal movement starting at the top left of the page to the far right, then move down and to the left to start again. They follow this pattern until they locate the information they’re after.
Why is the F-shaped pattern important?
Effective websites are designed with users’ needs in mind. And since most users scan websites using the F-shaped pattern, it’s best practice to lay out content in a hierarchy that matches that pattern. This is especially important for text-heavy pages like blogs. It’s much easier to scan a blog article if the content is broken down into bite-sized paragraphs and separated by engaging easy-to-read headlines.
How to use the F-shaped pattern
If you want your website to be easy to scan and digest, design with the F-shaped pattern in mind. Here are a few tips for effectively incorporating the F-shaped pattern into your website.
1. Follow a top to bottom hierarchy
The most valuable content on your web page should be the first thing a user sees. Place content at the top of the page that will grab the user’s eye and give them a clear understanding of what to expect as they go throughout the page.
2. Create balance throughout the page
The F-shaped pattern assists users with quickly navigating content. You can leverage this pattern throughout a page by balancing text blocks, white space, headline hierarchies, and imagery. All of these design elements help users scan through various sections on the page to locate the information they’re after.
3. Create different layout variations
Users can easily become bored if they’re scanning through repetitive layouts or text-heavy content blocks. By incorporating engaging visuals in a variety of layouts, you provide users with content they can (and want to) easily scan and follow down the page.