How to Write World-Beating Web Content


On the web, why do we scan and read content? Most likely as a result of information overload; we are aware that the material has not been verified and that we have access to a vast array of additional sources.

Nothing has succeeded in the years that designers have spent trying to make text on the internet easier to read. Therefore, rather than attempting a thorough read, maybe it is time to accept the inevitable and embrace crafting material that is scanned.

What is Scannable Text?

Studies using eye tracking techniques conducted in the late 1990s and early 2000s showed that four out of five visitors browse websites rather than reading them from cover to cover. Since people are accustomed to using digital media and the web is more widely utilized, a large portion of that research has been disproven.

Nevertheless, skimming a page remains the most common method of accessing material on the internet; this could be due to the human eye’s natural preference or a self-fulfilling prophecy. We are aware that people browse websites in specific ways:

  • F-pattern – The top bar of the F is formed by people reading in a horizontal motion across the top of the content area. The lower bar of the F is formed by them moving slightly down the page and reading across in a second horizontal movement that is usually shorter than the first. Lastly, they do a vertical scan of the left side of the content. This tendency results from users’ frequent need to locate useful information fast; they typically scan headlines and paragraph starts but ignore lengthy text passages.
  • Layer-cake pattern – Users effectively pass over the content in between headings and subheadings in order to focus on them. The layer-cake pattern derives its name from the way the eyes move horizontally across the page, focusing on the textual “layers” provided by the headings, much like when they may be looking at the many layers of a cake. Using this strategy, viewers may evaluate the content’s structure quickly and determine which sections are worth reading more closely.
  • Spotted pattern – Users skim web pages looking for specific terms, numbers, or other visual components. The reader’s eyes fly around the page in this pattern, identifying and focusing on particular material that stands out because of its significance, originality, or design emphasis. In actuality, the spotted pattern frequently appears when people are looking for particular information or details and, as a result, ignore a large portion of the surrounding content.
  • Zigzag pattern – Users’ eyes scan a webpage in a diagonal or zigzag pattern, going back and forth. This pattern usually appears on websites that combine text and other multimedia elements, such as photographs, alternately placed on the left and right sides of the page. Users’ sight naturally follows a zigzag trajectory as they go from one element to the next, going from text on one side to an image on the other, and vice versa.
  • Lawnmower pattern – Content that is arranged in a table or grid format, usually containing text and multimedia components, is scanned by users. This scanning pattern is comparable to the back-and-forth motion of mowing a grass. In order to systematically cover the space, users begin at the top left and proceed horizontally to the right. They then descend to the next line and traverse left to right once more. This methodical technique guarantees that every piece in the grid is examined, including text blocks, videos, and photographs.

How to Write Scannable Text Content

The web is packed with examples of how to write great text that connects with people. Corporate style guides are a great source of how to capture and keep a reader’s attention.

  • Keep paragraphs brief – Short paragraphs allow authors to concentrate on a single idea, which facilitates information retention and digestion for readers. This conciseness also helps to keep the reader’s interest and lessens the chance of mental tiresomeness or weariness. Short paragraphs break up long passages of text, which can be unsettling or threatening to readers, and provide for a visually appealing text arrangement.
  • Use a variety of sentence lengths – Combining lengthy and short sentences produces a lively rhythm that improves comprehension and reader engagement. Short phrases can be powerful and clear, slicing through convoluted concepts to make direct arguments swiftly and clearly. Longer sentences, on the other hand, enable the writer to express ideas more subtly and build complicated ideas while conveying nuances in description or argument. The narrative stays interesting because of the variation in sentence length.
  • Incorporate bullet points – Bullet points make it easier for readers to understand and retain important points by dividing complex information or concepts into little, easily digestible portions.
  • Use clear headings – Clear headings make it easy for readers to skim your material and find relevant information quickly by giving a rapid overview of each section’s contents. This is particularly helpful for larger publications because readers may prefer to skim only certain sections rather than reading the entire thing.


Writing for the web effectively requires accepting that most readers will scan your content rather than read it carefully.

Through comprehension and utilization of prevalent scanning patterns, like the F-pattern, layer-cake, spotted, zigzag, and lawnmower patterns, authors can customize their writing to cater to the demands of a rapidly evolving, information-dominated setting.

Use short paragraphs, change up the length of your sentences, add bullet points, and make sure your headings are clear and informative to create scannable content that appeals to readers. These techniques make the text easier to read while also making sure that the most important points are made clear, even in a brief glance. By accommodating their scanning patterns and providing content that is both readable and interesting, this strategy honors the reader’s time and attention.

Ultimately, by adapting to the intrinsic behaviors of web users, writers can produce more effective and engaging online texts that stand out in a crowded digital landscape.

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