When we read a website, we don’t take in all the information as if we were reading a book. Instead, most users scan websites for the most relevant information.
Research completed by Jacob Nielsen shows users switch from scanning to reading content when they find sections that interest them to focus on.
The evidence for scanning has been supported by numerous studies, with many studies focusing on the various content web pages have, such as text, colour, interactive portions, and other elements. Because of all these different stimuli, the brain is able to more efficiently process this information through scanning.
Consider this, if you have 10 pages of search results; you wouldn’t take the time to read all of them. Instead, scanning can help you find relevant information ten times faster. Additionally, scanning helps the brain index large amounts of information faster than reading, significantly decreasing the time it takes to parse information.
Including scannability in your website is easy, and also important for helping your users navigate through the site and find the content they’re interested in. Some websites utilize lists and bullet points to make scanning content easier for users.
According to one study, scanning your website and content can have a significant return on investment for your effort. According to the study, there was a 124% increase in content capture when websites are made to be scannable and have an easy-to-read and use interface. With the trend of scanning growing, web pages are becoming more succinct and direct in their content; making scanning the go-to for most users.