The Next 100 Things You Need To Know About People: #101 — People Read Only 60% Of An Online Article


[A note from the author, Susan Weinschenk: “On October 25, 2009 I wrote my first “100 Things” blog post: “100 Things You Should Know About People: #1 — You Have ‘Inattention Blindness.” I didn’t know at the time that that series of 100 blog posts would turn into my book 100 Things Every Designer Needs To Know About People. That book continues to be popular all over the world, and I am very grateful and very glad to have struck a chord with so many people.

So much so, that I decided to keep going. I’ve recently published 100 MORE Things Every Designer Needs To Know About People, and so I’ve decided to pick up where I left off on my blog posts and take it through the next 100! I hope you enjoy, and if you want the full information and / or don’t want to wait to read it via the separate posts, then check out the new book (info at the end of this post). So here’s the first one, #101 of Things You Should Know About People.”]



Tony Haile (CEO of Chartbeat — a company that analyzes real-time web analytics) analyzed 2 billion online interactions, most of them from online articles and news sites, and found that 55 percent of the time people spend less than 15 seconds on a page, which means they’re not reading the news articles.

Hmmm, it likely took you 15 seconds to read the above paragraph, so maybe I’ve already lost you.

Clicking and/or sharing doesn’t equal reading — A lot of money has changed hands over pay-per-click and page views, both of which measure the success of online advertising by counting clicks. Haile says that’s the wrong measurement — Instead of clicks, we should concentrate on the amount of attention the audience gives, and whether they come back.

Another action that is traditionally sought after is sharing on social media. Can you assume that if people share an article, for example, on Facebook, or tweet about it, that they’ve read what they’re sharing?

The relationship between reading and sharing is weak —  Articles that are read all the way through aren’t necessarily shared. Articles that are shared have likely not been read past 60 percent.

According to Adrianne Jeffries, Buzzeed and Upworthy report that most tweets occur either at 25 percent through the article or at the end of the article, but not much in between those two extremes.

Takeaways (if you even got this far!):

  • Don’t assume people are reading the whole article.
  • Put your most important information before the 60 percent point of the article.
  • When you want people to share the article, remind them to do that about 25 percent of the way through the article and again at the end.
  • Don’t assume that if people shared the article that means they read all or even most of it.

For more information:

Haile, Tony. 2014. “What You Think You Know about the Web Is Wrong.” http://time. com/12933/what-you-think-you-know-about-the-web-is-wrong

Adrienne. 2014. “You’re Not Going to Read This.” http://www.theverge. com/2014/2/14/5411934/youre-not-going-to-read-this

If you liked this article (and if you actually read to the end!), you might want to check out my new book, 100 MORE Things Every Designer Needs To Know About People. 



Lastly, It might be too late to ask this (more than 25% through the article!): If you liked this article, please share it with your network.


Fonts, Typography, And How We Read Online

I’ve been a fan of Kevin Larson’s writing about fonts, typography and online reading for some time. I mention him in my latest book, 100 Things Every Designer Needs To Know About People.

Kevin is a reading psychologist that works with typographers at Microsoft. He’s part of a team at Microsoft with a goal to make reading online as easy and enjoyable as reading from paper. I recently interviewed Kevin for a podcast.

You can listen to the podcast by clicking on this link

Here are some of the things we talk about in the interview:

–print on paper is at 1200 or 2400 dpi, but current screens are only 100 dpi

–the software technology we use to draw letters has dramatically changed over the last 20 years, and this has improved the quality of text online, even though the dpi is still poor

–the goal of typography is “to be invisible”

–what rasterization and anti-aliasing mean in terms of making text more readable online

–how online reading specialists use color to “trick” our eyes into seeing a higher resolution

–why people who are colorblind will see text more clearly than people who are not

–what induces eye fatigue online

–when you are 40 years old only 1/2 of the light in your environment makes it through to your eye

and much much more!

And for more information on Kevin’s work at Microsoft you can also read his article on fonts and typography here.

This is the first in a podcast series I am working on. Let me know what you think!