Why readers pay attention to only a small percentage of Web content
I was working with a company who, based on research, had discovered a top intranet task. It was interesting that the Web team initially had no idea what this task was about, even though there was huge demand for it in the workforce. But this is not uncommon; Web teams tend to be very isolated from their customers.
But the really interesting thing was what happened when we tried to prioritize the task on the homepage. We placed the task prominently in the center column. We then did a round of testing expecting employees to immediately identify the task.
Of the 15 people that were asked to carry out the task, only one noticed it in the center column. The rest either scanned the left column or went to the search box. This was a bit of a shock but on reflection was no real surprise.
Over the years, I have found that people don’t really scan an entire Web page. Rather, they break the page up into various sections or blocks and then scan within these areas.
The left column is where people expect to find the core navigation for the area they are searching for. So, for example, if they are searching for a product, and they are on the products homepage, they expect to find the main products listed in the left column.