If you are one of the people who is developing your Personal Brand , something essential in this era, it is essential that you know the value of Pattern F.
Bonnie Kittle vía Unsplash
What’s that? Neither more nor less than the characteristic pattern with which we all read through different screens, be it a computer, a cell phone or a tablet.
The name was given by Jakob Nielsen and his team from the Nielsen Norman Group company, who have dedicated themselves to studying what is called “eye tracking” in users who read in digital formats. And they discovered that there is a pattern in common, since it is made in the form of F. They detected what is called a “heat map”, the hottest areas of reading on the web.
As it is increasingly common to communicate through networks, your blog, a digital press release, or in your newsletter with e-mail marketing and other ways of disseminating content.
Why do I explain these techniques in detail, relating them to your Personal Brand? Because, definitely, you must know how to write and capture the attention of your audience, as well as speak in public and present your ideas clearly and forcefully.
No matter how much you hire someone to help you with texts, design and with everything you don’t know or don’t want to do, it is essential that they do have your stamp, your style: and that is only generated by you; You can’t delegate it, and what’s more: from experience I tell you that not just any professional (community managers, web and graphic designers, copywriters, for example) grasp it quickly.
What Pattern F means and how to master it
What they have studied and discovered is that the gaze draws a certain reading pattern when it is on the Internet; And it just resembles the letter F.
Online, people don’t read word-for-word linearly, instead:
- A horizontal reading is made first at the top of the screen.
- Then the gaze makes another horizontal movement, but shorter, in the area immediately below what you have just read.
- Lastly, it focuses on the left side of that content (which would be the fine line under the F).
As you may have noticed, in this article I am considering the languages in which the reading direction is from left to right.
Let’s see this with an example: if you upload an article to the blog on your website because you are consistently working on your Personal Brand and add value with interesting content, the first thing the public will see is the headline and the top left.
If only the first words of each of those lines are not interesting to you, it may be that you lose that person , because they leave your page and go to look for another topic; Or, you may be fortunate enough to stick around a bit longer, gliding down (like the fine line in the letter F) yearning to find something interesting.
We are essentially visual
All human beings, regardless of the culture and the place where we live, have a highly developed visual sense; hence the phrase that says that “everything enters by sight.”
In the world of the Internet, text occupies an important place in the public interest; Experts point out that it is the entry point for people to get hooked and want to know more, contrary to what happens in the offline format, for example, in a newspaper, where what usually attracts the most attention is a photograph.
All the resources that you can apply in your texts for the Internet that help to navigate better, are very valuable for visitors. For example, navigation or summary menus guide your reading. They are called ‘directional devices’, because they induce where we want that person to go directly to read.
Long or short texts?
About the length of the texts, there is a lot of controversy about it. Jakob Nielsen himself states that only 20% of the content is read on the screen; and challenge with a statement: “Do not write more than 50% in length than you would have prepared for a paper version.”
On the other hand, there are those who affirm that many people read by “screenshot”, that is to say that in addition to the F pattern, their gaze quickly scans through the text, until they find a word, a phrase highlighted in bold, or something that calls it attention.
For this reason, the dynamism of reading occupies a central place within the structure when you use texts for your Personal Brand. Some resources are: the spacing, the way you divide the texts, the layout in which they are displayed on the screen, the reading sense and the visual breaks (such as, for example, the spacing after a full stop) are extremely important.
I especially recommend a conversational language, like the one I am applying in this article, because by personalizing it, people feel more comfortable and close to you.
Keys to attracting attention with Pattern F
The retention time of readers on the Internet is another topic of study. As it happens to all of us, possibly we enter a topic with great interest, and from there we go to another and another and another, and thus, we are “picking” on related content from different sources.
The scholars affirm that the navigation and fluency of texts must be very clear for those who visit us, since they will always dedicate a limited time to each headline, keywords or words with a link (hyperlink).
That is why web design favors the F pattern if it is made professionally, since it is the sense in which the user reads, at least according to what has been studied so far.
The main points to keep in mind are:
- Where to locate the most important elements. The F pattern concentrates many elements in the upper left of a web page. I add that it can also apply to any other piece with information that is added to the Internet.
- Makes reading easier. Everything that helps to read clear, clear and direct, will capture the attention of the public.
- Elements of visual appeal. The use of emoticons or icons serves to energize the reading and emphasize concepts, as well as the use of clear fonts, easy to decode, and in a size suitable for all types of people.
- The headlines must have hook, without lying. It is very common to use the “clickbait” technique on the Internet (hook, for the person to click), where a title is placed that plays with the content itself, although many times it can be misleading.
- Consider the multiple access devices of the users . Reading on computers, and the increasing use of cell phones for information and navigation, also affects reading. That is why the need to generate different content formats is growing according to tastes, uses and customs in what is called the user experience .
- Use calls to action (call-to-action): This is what the writer or the media would like that person to do next. The calls are not necessarily for sale, but, for example, you can arouse curiosity to continue reading through a simple question.
- Use magic words when writing : In this way you will better connect your writing skills on the Internet with the techniques of persuasion and influence. This is exactly what the discipline of copywriting is all about, which seeks to create attractive texts that arouse the interest of reading. It is applied for content, marketing, advertising and for any type of piece on the Internet.
Some examples of magic words: simple, easy, professional, guaranteed, safe, free, tested, proven, today, now, urgent, only, limited, economic, savings, gift, discount, new, secret, imagine, discover, build, achieve, do, get excited. And the most persuasive word of all: the name of the person himself.
- Other patterns studied (and that are not the F) : Complementary studies suggest that the conclusions of Pattern F cannot be generalized, since it has been studied that others read in the form of E or inverted L (very similar to the F of the that we talk about here).
- Diverse Patterns: In various articles and posts I researched for this note, Nielsen has updated their research, finding that there are users who use a “spotted pattern” scheme for reading (because they skip large blocks of text and hook you up with the following that they are interested) and a “marking pattern” (which involves keeping your eyes fixed on one place, while the mouse or finger glides to another place in the text).
- Touch and interact on cell phones. In the case of users who read on their cell phone, as it is a much smaller screen than that of the computer, the experience is completely different.
In addition, through “responsive” web content (adaptable in format, automatically resizable when viewed on a mobile phone), people can touch and interact in another way. That is why, for example, social networks are so attractive, because you have them in the palm of your hand; and that is the reason why they are not consumed so much from computers.
5 points to keep in mind when publishing your Personal Brand content on the Internet
Based on my own experience, with more than 2000 articles written and published in all types of media in my country and globally, and on the web danielcolombo.com:
1. Don’t be discouraged
That the user sees some content in this way does not mean that you have to give up length, quality, depth or creativity. You keep on your way and adapt as best you can.
2. Not everything persuasive works the same way
I know dozens of copywriters and web designers who claim that theirs is the absolute truth; and that does not exist. You have to try different persuasion techniques and reach your audience and the design of a web professional will not always be appropriate for your personal brand: always look for people with experience and with whom you feel they understand you.
3. Build your virtual community
When you commit to creating content, the goal is to be read, followed, and interacted with. Then it will come, if it were the case, the conversion into a sale or whatever you offer. It is not the other way around: you must give first, and then reap.
When the community appreciates your content, there is no letter F that is worth it , because they will be better predisposed to strive to accompany you with your material, as long as it is interesting to them.
4. Attention flows permanently decrease
What’s more, they fluctuate every three months or so. So, overly long articles should condense some magic and interest in no more than the first and second paragraphs. It’s all you have to convince people. The same happens in public speaking, a specialty in which I train, where on stage you have just 20 or 30 seconds for the public to give you their trust. If you cross that first barrier, you may have the opportunity to read one more paragraph, and then another, and another.
5. Perfect yourself and don’t be touched by the “culture of cancellation”
As much as the theories, studies and gurus on duty say what they say, it is important that you train your communication skills, design, and a certain aesthetic taste related to your community (not just your personal preference).
I must say this because I know thousands of people who do everything from their unique perspective, and, precisely, that does not attract the attention of the public they want to reach.
That is why you need to know your audience very well, also knowing that they can leave you at any time. This is called the “cancellation culture.” Do not take it to heart and continue, since you will never be able to conform to everyone.
And if you got reading this far, which has been a longer article than usual in my style, I congratulate you and thank you for your interest and company. In that case, then, it would have outperformed the F pattern, and hopefully it would have spanned more dictionary letters.