Implications of the “F – Format” in Industrial Website Viewing

At the onset of a client’s optimization program, one of the first issues to arise is content presentation. In identifying these potential problem areas prior to optimization, usability is almost always at the top of the list. And because a search engine optimization program would be all but null in the absence of conversions, treating every click as an opportunity for monetization is absolutely crucial, especially in an age where the dominant B2B search engine Google has little to no tolerance for any thing on a web page that is not 100% relevant to the user.

Eyetracking studies indicate that users read web pages in an F-shaped format:
User eye movement can be visually represented by two horizontal stripes followed by a vertical stripe. ( An “F”.) While this is nothing new in the web world, it does hold a unique meaning for those with industrial product or service related websites.
For example, OEMs and manufacturers in competitive environments such as metal forming, typically will provide comprehensive (and lengthy) information regarding their capabilities, equipment, processes and materials as a way to convey their expertise.
While this practice makes sense, in the absence ‘F-Shaped Considerations’ it can be a liability.
Because while content is good for the search engines and for keyword saturation, if your viewers don’t read it, if they don’t perform the actions you want them to, don’t click on your links or visit a cross section of your webpages, usability and conversion will be low. This affects not only your bottom line, but your search engine rankings as well. Rather than omitting this information, presenting it in an organized ‘skimmable’ manner as apposed to a dissertation will do the trick.

Below are a few things to consider when

a.) evaluating the usability of a potential clients website,

and b.) developing content for your own industrial related website.

  • Users first read in a linear movement, usually horizontally across the upper portion of the content area. (This forms the F’s top bar.) This area is often times used for secondary navigation such as “about us”, “privacy policy” ,ect. Given the importance of this area, we recommend that this valuable real estate be used for primary navigation, important information that captivates the user, and for clear calls to action.
  • Next, users read across in another, shorter horizontal movement. (This additional element forms the F’s lower bar.) If the above strategies are taken in regards to the top part of the F, naturally this area should be used for hooking in your reader with the openingof your content body. For SEO purposes, this can be an H1 tag (Or primary heading) describing the theme of of the page in a captivating manner. For the homepage, this area is THE opportunity to relay quickly what your site is about – information that reinforces the vistors decision to click on your results page listing.
  • Finally, users vertically scan the pages left hand side. (This last element forms the base of the F.) For ecommerce sites with product and category level pages, this is a prime area for navigation. Users can quickly scan your product offerings, and act accordingly.

**Other Things to Bear In Mind When Organizing Your Content and Design**

– You have a precious 4 seconds to convince your visitors they’ve landed in the right place, and to get them to ACT.

– Users are first and foremost interested in your product information specifications and pricing. NOT your company information like history. Every sentence should be packed with meaning, providing your visitors with only the information they need to make a confident buying decision.

– Buyers generally operate from a ‘preventative’ position. This means that buyers are more easily driven to make purchasing decisions based on what might happen if they don’t chose you as their vendor, as apposed to what they might gain by buying from you.

– Legible fonts

– Segmented, grid like content areas.

– Bulleted information

– Short Paragraphs

– Calls to Action

– Key Differentiators – Clearly stating unique attributes of your product or service.

Other Ideas on how industrial companies can organize their content for SEO and conversions? Leave us a comment!

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