No, I’m not trying to offend you with a bunch of cursing.

When it comes to web design layout, keeping in mind how people actually scan pages of information is important.

Jakob Nielsen, of, did research in 2006 (that still holds true today) of how people scanned web pages. What they uncovered is that people scan pages in a general “F” pattern. It breaks down like this:

  • Users first read in a horizontal movement, usually across the upper part of the content area. This initial element forms the F’s top bar.
  • Next, users move down the page a bit and then read across in a second horizontal movement that typically covers a shorter area than the previous movement. This additional element forms the F’s lower bar.
  • Finally, users scan the content’s left side in a vertical movement. Sometimes this is a fairly slow and systematic scan that appears as a solid stripe on an eyetracking heatmap. Other times users move faster, creating a spottier heatmap. This last element forms the F’s stem.

3 screenshots from Nielsen Norman Group's recent eyetracking study.

While this study showcases a rather old design layout void of current trends of image sliders, we have found that this “F” pattern holds true today. Users will scan quickly across the top to see if information is relevant, move down the page to see what products/services that relate to their problem, and finally scan down further to see how they can take action or learn more details.

Take a look at your current site and make sure you have a design follows this research and don’t leave your visitors saying “What the ‘F?'”