Do you really read online? – An Experiment

What do you think? Are you going to read this page? No? Well, you should. Why? Because we have decided to run an interesting experiment whose results will probably surprise you.

What is the experiment all about?

One of the greatest Internet debates is whether or not people read online. Understanding what and how people read on the Web can help us (and by “us” we mean all webmasters) design better sites and create more relevant content. For this, we will check your online reading habits, indentify who you are, and…collect data from your computer to send it over to the MI5 so that Britons will have their own “Snowden Incident”. We should not joke about this? Do not worry; we are not. J What else? Oh, yes, we will find out not only what and how you read, but also if you can solve difficult problems like this one:

problems

If you cannot, maybe you should try this:

image02

Warning: Do NOT read this section

Surprisingly, you have reached “that” section that promises to deliver critical information you just cannot live without. But we do not want you to read it. For this reason, we wrote some very boring, lifeless sentences. We even added the monotonous Lorem Ipsum, which makes the section even longer. But there is a secret hidden inside this dummy text. Can you find it? And here is the information you cannot live without: with roots in classical Latin literature, Lorem Ipsum is used as a default model to indicate text distribution on websites under construction. How about that!

How do people actually read online?

picture-is-worth-a-1000-words We know why you have stopped so suddenly. It is the image above, isn’t it? Since “a picture is worth a thousand words”, images, graphics, and infographics have become the most efficient and preferred way for people to “read” online. But you do not have to take our words for granted. Here are some statistics – and a graphic representation for our page to look more professional – that prove this fact.

  • According to experts, approximately 62 percent of Internet users are visual learners.
  • The human brain is able to process visual information 60,000 times faster than text. This is because 40 percent of nerve fibres in the brain are connected to the retina.
  • The human eye can register up to 36,000 images per hour.
  • Visual elements help people learn more efficiently.
  • Exceptional students are often visual learners.

And here is the “visual” we have promised: image04 (Photo credit: Schmoozy Fox) Undoubtedly, social media has changed the way we consume information. Social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, make possible information sharing, allowing people to do what they love most: share ideas and communicate with each other while reading interesting articles or watching funny videos. Thus, reading habits are affected by what it is worth bookmarking and sharing.

How should you write for the Internet?

Here is a quick guide to making online content go viral:

  • create irrelevant headings
  • write very long, boring paragraphs
  • use uncommon words and technical terms that most people do not understand
  • try to create long, complicated, intricate sentences
  • never use punctuation marks
  • produce content only for search engines, which read a lot after working hours

Obviously, we are just kidding. Contrary to what you might think right now, people DO read online. How do they do it? Since most Internet users are in a hurry to find the information they need, they scan the lovely content you have written, looking for meaningful headings, bulleted lists, short paragraphs, highlighted keywords, and links to other pages. Therefore, don’t expect your site visitors to read irrelevant information and long text blocks. When do they do it? When they:

  • find informative, unique, and interesting materials
  • read for pleasure; a recent study has shown that 55 percent of UK adults access online newspapers, magazines, blogs, and broadcasters in their spare time
  • websites facilitate cursory reading

Below is a succinct guide on how to create viral content readers will love to share.

Put essential content in the first sentence and paragraph, and do not centre text.

Since about 80 percent of Web users look at information above the page fold first, you should get to the point immediately. Once you attract readers’ attention, they are more likely to read the rest of your post. Additionally, 69 percent of people look at the left side of a webpage, without paying attention to text that is centred.

Keep it short.

Internet users read about 20 percent of the words on a webpage before deciding to stay on that page or look for another source of information. You can get visitors to stay on your site by writing short paragraphs and complementing them with bullets, bolded headings, and keywords where appropriate.

Do NOT make promises you cannot keep.

If you provide links, make sure they work; if you offer a free e-book, make sure your readers can download it from your site. What else? Use plain, simple, objective language, and avoid exaggerations and sugar-coated messages that sound like an ad. Furthermore, add an “About Us” section to your site to let people know who you are and what services or products you provide.

To PDF or NOT to PDF.

PDFs are useful ONLY when readers want to download information for later reference. Therefore, you should provide content in HTML and use PDF as an alternative format.

Complement images with content.

Pleasing images can spruce up a website. However, site visitors pay closer attention to images including content messages, ignoring “fluff”.

Summary

What do you think? Do people really read online? Unfortunately, we cannot give you a straight answer because we have not finished the experiment yet. But do not despair; we will publish the results soon. So stay tuned! Wait, wait… Now that you have reached the end of this page, we want to congratulate you…on your courage and tell you that you have a good chance to win a prize. Yes, that is right! We are going to send $50 to the first person who has read the entire page and contacts us. To get the prize, you must also have a PayPal account and agree to our *terms and conditions so that we can name you in our experiment results. Now, hurry up… Be the first to claim the prize! Terms and conditions

  • first person to contact us wins
  • must have a Paypal account or access to a Paypal account to receive the funds
  • we will update this page with the name of the winner
  • you must email info@imre.co.uk
  • we will not enter into any correspondance with the entrants
  • no purchase is required
  • to show that you have read the post you must tell us what you think is the percentage of people who will actually read this entire post
  • no partners, suppliers, employees or 3rd parties associated with us may enter this experiment
  • as soon as we have a winner, that is it, the experiment will end and no further responses will be accepted or replied to