January 28, 2013
Call it the bailout point.
People reading news on an iPad spent an average of 78.3 seconds on stories that they didn’t finish. That’s according to EyeTrack: Tablet, the Poynter Institute’s 2012 eyetracking study.
So how can you keep your reader’s attention? Here are three findings from Eyetrack: Tablet.
Put a “gold coin” at the bailout point to keep people reading, Poynter researchers suggest. That could be a provocative question, a juicy detail, a plot twist or another element to regain interest.
If people read at an average of 200 words per minute, then that means you’d include a gold coin after about 250 words.
Other bailout points to be aware of include:
Half of online “readers” actually just scan, according to Poynter’s 2007 eyetracking research. The same is true of iPad “readers.” Of the total audience in the EyeTrack: Tablet study:
But break out older and younger readers, and those numbers change. The Poynter Institute looked at two different demographics for this study.
Digital natives: These 18-to-28-year-olds are among the first adults who don’t have strong memories of life before digital media. Of this group:
Printnets: These 45-to-55-year-olds have one foot in the print world, the other in the online world. Of this group:
Don’t decide that young people and scanners have attention deficit disorder: These folks spent as much time as older people and methodical readers absorbing information — they just did it differently.
“It’s the style, not the degree, of consumption,” says David Stanton, managing developer at Smart Media Creative, who worked on the study.
Mario Garcia goes further. The CEO of Garcia Media and founder of the Graphics & Design program at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, adds, “There’s a scanner inside every methodical reader.”
The reverse is also true: Scanners often read methodically once they find what they’re looking for.
Tablet design adds touch to the other elements of electronic communication. Most people keep nearly constant contact with the screen.
When organizing your copy, consider how readers will interact with your content. “Avoid the ‘frustrated finger’ when designing for tablets,” Garcia says. “Engage the finger as well as the brain and eyes.”
Copyright © 2013 Ann Wylie. All rights reserved.