What moves your viewers?

Although eye-tracking studies can and have easily been disputed, the information distilled from them can be part of your information arsenal. One eye-tracking study found that web users read in an “F” pattern.

Translated, this means that they first read in a horizontal movement, across the upper part of the content area; move down the page a bit and then read across in a second horizontal movement; and then scan the content’s left side in a vertical movement.

Interestingly enough, the “Z” pattern has traditionally been used for print. The contrast of the “F” and the “Z” and their mediums is something to ponder.

In the print publication world, it is known that we create directional flow with visual elements, all with the intention of getting a message across by moving the reader through the piece.

The conventional “Z” pattern of reading (in western cultures) is used for the strategic placement of important information. Starting in the upper left corner, working across to the right and then back to the left again, going top to bottom. The “Z” is on any page or spread (2 facing pages) if two pages are viewed together as one.

Applying this convention, whether it is an “F” or a “Z”.

The upper left corner in email promos/newsletters happens to hold the most prime real estate in your communication as it is the first thing people view. And for most, it needs to be the “grabber”.

The upper left corner of your website homepage can be thought of in the same way. Some of this is subjective to the viewers screen size. Viewing on a small screen makes the upper left most important as opposed to viewing on a large screen, where directing the eye is much more important. It can determine whether your viewer remains on your site or not.

What visual elements do you find successful in directing viewers, web and/or print?