Using the F Pattern will get you an A on your Website Conversions
Website conversions are always a hot topic for any business with an online presence. The more conversions your site generates often equals more profits, and who doesn’t want that? As an experienced website design company we wanted to share how using the F Pattern will get you on A on your website conversions.
What is the F Pattern?
The F Pattern is a term that describes how a typical person’s eyes move while reading content online. This is different than how we read magazines, books, or other hard print documents that generally have different layouts and styles.
First, you need to understand that our eyes can scan content in a matter of seconds. We have learned that scanning websites allows us to find information faster. Second, you need to understand how we have trained or been trained to scan that content.
The typical user scans across the top of a page which is often where headlines and important data is located. Next the eyes scan down the left side of the page looking at bullet points, sub-headers, menu options, etc. Finally the eyes scan across the page more in the midpoint to look at what should be important aspects.
Heat maps have been used in numerous studies to track eye movements supporting this common method we as humans use to absorb website data. Of course we call it an “F Pattern” because that is the most relatable shape to the pattern however the shape is not always exact.
In the Western world we learn to read from left to right, so the top line of the F Pattern makes perfect sense. Since websites are often segmented in their layout the rest of the pattern also is logical as the eyes begin a scan to find desired information. Again, as we learned to read from left to right, scanning down the left side for information makes sense; we will naturally spend more time on the left side of the page. Then when something is found it is investigated with the final result being a pattern similar to the shape of a capital letter “F”.
How do you turn a pattern into conversions?
A business can choose to implement the F-pattern into its design as a strategy for increasing conversions. Not every website does this, but it makes sense to provide a layout that matches the natural inclination of how we read.
This style of layout can be particularly effective on pages that are dense with text or has critical information points that need to stand out using a visual hierarchy.
To make the most of the F-pattern you should:
- Determine most important actions – What is the most important thing or things you want people to do or see on your site? Is it a newsletter sign-up? Shopping at the store? Or perhaps you want them to click on your Call-to-action.
- Focus placement based on the pattern – Take those important elements and focus on placement within the F-pattern so that they are accentuated with the design and prominently displayed based on how we read a website.
- Repeat the process on each page – It is important to utilize this method consistently throughout your site because that consistency shows reliability which in turn reinforces the intuitive decision making process that occurs within online conversions.
- Keep it short – As you are working within a fixed space it is important to keep everything short and to the point.
- Use style to accentuate – There are numerous methods that can be used to help items stand out further down the page within the F-pattern such as bold, italics, bullet points and the like.
- Optimize for both mobile and desktop – The F-pattern works on both desktop and mobile devices because reading patterns don’t change based on screen size. However a smaller screen does mean you have to focus on clarity.
- Test your layouts – Testing is a vital step in the design process. This should be used in regards to item placement within the pattern to make sure you are getting the most bang for your buck.
Here are a few samples of sites that do not make use of the F-pattern concept:
- Pest Exterminator – This site seems to avoid any sort of pattern at all which makes it hard to decide where to focus your attention.
- Dyson – This is a streamlined approach to a site that focuses on centering information. It is still noticeable that even with the primary text in the center, the eyes still draw to the left looking for information.
While these site successfully use the F-pattern concept:
- Langara College – You can literally see the F-pattern over the backdrop image. The rotating middle element fits well within the basic F-pattern concept due to keeping primary information within the pattern.
- CNN – The news site uses a hybrid F-pattern that leads with headlines and navigation across the top and then uses images to help focus the top stories in the top left corner of the F.
- Dynamic Yield – This is a smaller F-pattern but it still showcases the important information first, especially the CTA button.
You can quickly see the difference when you compare the sites and how your eyes are drawn to specific elements on the latter pages whereas visually you are more lost on the other sites.
The bottom line
While having important elements present on your website are important for conversion, so it making sure that viewers actually see them. Using the F pattern will get you an A on your website conversions because the intentional flow you create will allow visitors to focus first on the most important, specific elements that you want them to see. This will make them less likely to bounce and more likely to engage which is exactly what you want to help boost your bottom line.
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