How do people navigate a website?

Some research has studied how people look at websites and here are 10 useful findings you can use right now on your website.

Some research has studied how people look at websites and here are 10 useful findings you can use right now to help you develop or redesign your website with maximum effectiveness.

1. Top left corner gets attention first

When users land on your site, their eye path starts from the top left corner, and goes forward from there.

According to an eye-tracking study we checked in mid-2018, these are the most eye-catching areas on the screen in order:

  • 1: Top left corner of the screen
  • 2: Upper Right Corner of the Screen
  • 3: Bottom left of the screen
  • 4: Bottom Right Corner of the Screen

When we work on the  development of an institutional website , we make sure that the most important message that our client wants to say flows through these areas.

For customers who already have a website, we recommend that they move their value proposition to the top left area.

Note that this is not a universal truth, but a good starting point.

Are you familiar with the Gutenberg diagram? Describes a general pattern by which the eyes move when looking at (usually text-heavy) content.

Here is an example of a basic homepage layout:


In this example, the first area would be a call to action or problem-solving statement. The second area might be a very short description. The third area could be more towards white space or directional images that flow to the right. The fourth area of ​​the lower right terminal is where we would place the call to action.

2. People read in F patterns

Most people don’t read websites, they just browse.

A recent study found that, on average, only 28% of text is read on a single page.

Eye tracking research shows that users often browse website content in an F-shaped pattern: two horizontal stripes followed by a vertical stripe.


The heat map above shows exactly where the visitors of those 3 website pages focused there eyes.

You can clearly see the left side navigation up close and presumably swerve to the right if they become aware of something they want to know more about.

That’s why you want your value proposition in the top left corner.

3. Use noticeably longer introductory paragraphs to improve attention

Make introductory paragraphs in bold or larger font size.

When test people found a story with an introductory paragraph in bold, 95% of them saw all or part of it.

Keep paragraph line lengths short and in a single column – this is how people are used to reading text.

4. People won’t look beyond the first few Google results

If you’re not in the top 2 or 3 on Google for a keyword, you’re missing out.

In a Google eye tracking study, most users found what they were looking for between the first two results and never had to go any further down the page.

How difficult it is to get ranked high on Google unless you have an aggressive SEO strategy and a generous budget to help maintain that strategy.

Most of our clients are small and medium businesses and we recommend that they stick with a solid organic SEO strategy to get more results in the long run.

If you are in need of SEO services, check out our page about SEO agencies in Brazil.

5. People will scroll down, but it’s still good to put the most important content “above the fold”.

Even the most novice visitors to your site know how to scroll and look below the fold (information that doesn’t appear on the screen at first glance), but no one looks below the fold nearly as much as they look above the fold.

Make sure the part above the fold contains your value proposition, but don’t try to squeeze everything in there.

Let your value proposition and call to action breathe by making good use of white space.

Scrolling is still better than cutting lengthy content across multiple pages – it provides better usability.

Just be sure to guide people to scroll down with verbal or visual queries.

6. The left side of the page gets more attention than the right

We are programmed from birth to read from left to right. This is also why the left side of your web page gets more attention.

Web users spend 70% of their time viewing the left half of the page and 30% viewing the right half.

A conventional layout is therefore more likely to make websites profitable.

If you have something you really want your visitor to focus on, put it on the left.

Images, headlines and/or left-positioned content will be seen by the highest percentage of your site visitors and analyzed for the longest time.

7. Use large, high-quality images

Use large, clear and sharp images.

Based on a recent study, image quality is a significant factor in drawing attention to the rest of your content.

If you’re using people in your photos, make sure they’re either facing the front or facing inside the content.

An image that the person is facing is more inviting and approachable.

Focusing on the content will help keep visitors’ eyes flowing from the image to the content.

Another secret that the eye-tracking study provided is that people who look like models are less likely to attract attention than “normal” people.

For example, a contact page with a receptionist that looks like a model on the phone might be a good image technically, but it will likely be ignored.

8. Need to show photos from monitors, tablets or smartphones? Stick with Apple products

An Eye Trackshop study that recorded consumers looking at groups of smartphones and tablets found that Apple’s iPhone, iPad and Thunderbolt displays caught more glances and held people’s attention longer than any other device.

9. Dominant headlines attract attention

One study observed that big headlines often grab attention first when they enter the page – especially when they are in the top left corner.

Present an entire value proposition with the headline. Keep in mind that clarity trumps persuasion.

When you list a bunch of headlines on a page, most of the time it’s the left sides of the headlines that grab your attention.

People typically scan a list of headlines, and often don’t see entire headlines. If the first words engage them, they seem likely to read.

On average, a headline gets less than a second of a site visitor’s attention.

That means the first few words of the headline need to be real to get attention if you want to get attention.

10. First impressions take less than a second

When viewing a website, users take less than two-tenths of a second to form a first impression, according to research conducted at the Missouri University of Science and Technology .

The researchers found that their subjects spent about 2.6 seconds scanning a website before focusing on a particular section. They spent an average of 180 milliseconds focusing, or “pinning”, on a specific section before moving on.

The sections of the site that most attracted the interest of viewers were the following:

    • The institution’s logo. Users spent around 6.48 seconds focused on this area before moving on.
    • The main navigation menu. Almost as popular as the logo, subjects spent an average of 6.44 seconds viewing the menu.
    • The search box, where users focused for just over 6 seconds.
    • Social networking links to sites like Facebook and Twitter . Users spent about 5.95 seconds viewing these areas.
    • The main image of the site, where users’ eyes were fixed for an average of 5.94 seconds.
    • The written content of the site, where users spent about 5.59 seconds.
    • The bottom of a website where users spent about 5.25 seconds


  • Key point? You have about 1.5-6 seconds to capture your visitors’ attention. A dilapidated, amateurish, outdated website is a business killer.