Now that reading online involves a bevy of social actions, from sharing to commenting across a plethora of devices, how many of your site’s readers will make it past the first paragraph?

Scan This

In 1997, the Nielsen Norman Group reported that 79 percent of our test users always scanned any new page they came across; only 16 percent read word-by-word. Over the past decade, we’ve learned more about how people read (or don’t read) online. Eye-tracking studies have shown that when looking at text-based webpages, the eye gaze commonly follow an F-shaped pattern and that users spend 80% of time looking at content above the fold.

Will You Read This?

Recently Farhad Manjoo, Slate's technology columnist investigated this issue further in his article You Won’t Finish This Article. Using data from Chartbeat, he found that most readers don’t engage with the article, and if they do, they are inclined to do so before scrolling half-way down the page. Manjoo writes:

About 5 percent of people who land on Slate pages and are engaged with the page in some way—that is, the page is in a foreground tab on their browser and they’re doing something on it, like perhaps moving the mouse pointer—never scroll at all.

In the Slate example, only 25 percent of readers make it past the 1,600th pixel of the page though it has a higher percentage of time people who spend “below the fold” than compared to the average website.

Learning Opportunities

Having read to the end of the article, it was clear that writers face a variety of distractions once an article is published. To help us better understand the risks and opportunities about online readership, and to help you, dear reader, get to bottom of this article faster, we present you with an infographic that summarizes it all.