How Do Professional Tradesmen Read On The Web?

by | Sep 9, 2009

The answer is they don’t… they scan!

One of the main keys for an effective blog is to understand how people read on the web and tradesmen are no exception.

And how do users read on the web? The answer is, they don’t... they scan.

Nielsen Norman Group’s research found that 79 percent of their test users always scanned any new page they came across; only 16 percent read word-by-word.

For your blog to be effective, your text must be scannable.

Jakob Nielsen offers this advice:

  • Highlighted keywords (hypertext links serve as one form of highlighting; typeface variations and color are others)
  • Meaningful sub-headings (not “clever” ones)
  • Bulleted lists
  • One idea per paragraph (users will skip over any additional ideas if they are not caught by the first few words in the paragraph)
  • The inverted pyramid style, starting with the conclusion
  • Half the word count (or less) than conventional writing

Nielsen’s research also found that users detested “marketese;” the promotional writing style with boastful claims.

I’ve often said that…

“the moment you start to sell on your blog is when you will lose your audience.”

You need to understand how people read on the web and learn to write for them effectively. One of the best resources that I have found was Jakob Nielsen’s website. This is very dated material, 1997, but you will find that the top blogs follow Nielsen’s style guidelines remarkably well.  How Users Read on the Web


Jakob Nielsen has been called:

Web users generally prefer writing that is concise, easy to scan, and objective (rather than promotional) in style.

There are additional, interesting findings about users’ detailed reading behavior in Nielsen’s eyetracking studies.


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