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The Perks of Using the F-Pattern in Web Design

It's not a secret that any modern business requires a well-executed website, one that is capable of establishing and even enhancing its image on the web. Since more and more people venture online and new generations of users can't imagine their lives without the Internet, there's simply no way around becoming successful without building a substantial online audience.

The creation of a competent company website requires the assistance of a highly experienced and creative website design San Francisco team. Unless your company creates websites for a living, the best way forward for you is to hire a web design agency. A professional design company will be able to provide you with a site that draws traffic and increases sales. Of course, a high-quality website always features some key components. In this article, we will take a closer look at exactly what those are.

There are many aspects to high-quality websites. Some of them are strictly related to marketing, while others are part of the deeper dimensions of human psychology and behavior patterns. For example, how exactly does a person scan a webpage? It turns out people have particular viewing patterns. One of them is the so-called F-shaped pattern, otherwise known as the simple F-pattern.

Enter the F-Pattern

The F-Pattern is an industry secret. The top web designers and agencies use it to guide the creation of effective website designs. Eye-tracking studies show that people read content on the web differently from how they read printed materials. And yeah, you guessed it - when they land on a webpage, they read in an F-Pattern.

By focusing on a web page’s critical content within the rough shape of the letter F, companies that practice strategic website design ensure that the visitors to their clients’ site see precisely what they should be seeing.

Explaining the Miraculous F-Pattern

Let’s take a closer look at how the F-pattern works.

Jack is browsing the web, and he opens up a new website.

Instantly, without him even realizing he’s doing so, his eyes start scanning the page’s content in the shape of an F. This means he first looks across the top horizontal bar of the letter “F” for vital content to orient himself before looking anywhere else. In other words, he’s scanning from left to right across the top of the page.

Next, Jack will probably return his gaze to the left-hand side of the page and do a quick rundown across the lower horizontal bar that sits parallel to the top one he just scanned.

Lastly, his eyes scan the long, imaginary vertical bar that runs down the left-hand side of the screen and completes his scan in the shape of an F. Only after his eyes finish scanning – and this can happen in less than one second – will he start browsing through the main text on the webpage, first focusing on bullet points, bold text, and headings.

Users don’t often stop to read large blocks of text. Within seconds, site visitors decide whether or not they’ll stay or leave. Most of this decision is based on what they’ve seen along the three main scan-lines that form the F-Pattern.

If Used Properly, the F-pattern Can Boost Your Site’s Effectiveness

The web design agency you hire can use the F-pattern to the advantage of your business when designing your web pages. Among other things, the web design team can do the following:

  • Reserve the top bar of the F-pattern for the most critical content on the page: the headline. Without a compelling headline, readers may want to skip on to the next page. Or, even worse - to a competitor’s page (after all, why would they spend time reading content if they can’t define what it is about in the first place?);
  • Prevent user confusion by placing a subheading or call-to-action (CTA) on some pages along the short horizontal bar. The words of the subtitle should reinforce your primary, intriguing headline and tell visitors what they can do next;
  • Include your site’s main navigation along the vertical bar of the F-pattern since it is a prime spot for site visitors to look when orienting themselves.

The F-Pattern Is Not Flawless

Even taking into consideration all of the F-pattern’s benefits, using it comes with a small disadvantage. People are always used to reading left to right and top to bottom. If we look at an unfamiliar text, this is the way we expect it to look. The same kind of inherent expectation applies to websites as well. While people like familiarity, rigid conformity to f-patterns will make the page feel forced or even boring to the one looking at it.

These drawbacks can change by lightly shaking up the layout with an image that stretches across the page or an advertisement that breaks up the rigidity. Choosing a plan takes a bit of know-how to find just the right level of design that makes a viewer comfortable while looking at the page without pushing them away from the site with boredom.

Does the F-pattern Work on Cell Phones?

According to a Google study, there is little evidence that the F-pattern works on mobile devices. The study in question focused on the effect of ‘answer-like’ search results that come from Google Instant and Knowledge Graph.

Since people get answers without clicking links, the click-through rate is not an accurate measure of search relevance and user satisfaction. Hence, researchers studied where users looked on smartphone screens and found 68% of attention is focused on the top half of the screen, while 86% of attention focuses on the top two-thirds of the screen. The researchers also found differences between the way attention focuses on mobile devices versus desktop devices.

You should note that these findings are relevant for search result pages only. They do not extend to other page types. So, as for now, the F-pattern still holds for most web content, whether seen from a desktop or mobile device.

But, it’s still useful to always be ready for changes. There are new technologies that are in development that allow for text to know if and how it is being read by combining artificial intelligence and eye-tracking technology. Making the text responsive could completely change people’s online reading experiences and patterns.

Conclusion

As the need for websites increases, they get more diverse and unique every day. Companies look for ways to stand out in the crowd and attract their target audiences with additional visual and informational perks, faster loading speeds, and other factors they consider essential. Adding the F-pattern into the mix can become an additional advantage. However, it’s necessary to follow industry news and studies and introduce any particular changes according to guidance derived from new data.

Web design agencies are working in this environment daily and know what their customers need, no matter the particular niche. They also know how to use and incorporate the F-pattern into a website in the most effective possible way. Modern businesses severely depend on their online presence, and the best way to establish an online following and reinforce brand image is by creating useful websites.

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