Susan Weinschenk, Ph.D.

Susan Weinschenk Ph.D.

Brain Wise

People Read Only 60% Of An Online Article

Data shows that clicking and/or sharing doesn't equal reading

Posted Sep 28, 2015

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Source: Unsplash

Tony Haile (CEO of Chartbeat -- a company that analyzes real-time web analytics) analyzed 2 billion online interactions, most of them from online articles and news sites, and found that 55 percent of the time people spend less than 15 seconds on a page, which means they’re not reading the news articles.

Hmmm, it likely took you 15 seconds to read the above paragraph, so maybe I've already lost you.

Clicking and/or sharing doesn't equal reading -- A lot of money has changed hands over pay-per-click and page views, both of which measure the success of online advertising by counting clicks. Haile says that’s the wrong measurement -- Instead of clicks, we should concentrate on the amount of attention the audience gives, and whether they come back.

Another action that is traditionally sought after is sharing on social media. Can you assume that if people share an article, for example, on Facebook, or tweet about it, that they’ve read what they’re sharing?

The relationship between reading and sharing is weak --  Articles that are read all the way through aren’t necessarily shared. Articles that are shared have likely not been read past 60 percent.

According to Adrianne Jeffries, Buzzeed and Upworthy report that most tweets occur either at 25 percent through the article or at the end of the article, but not much in between those two extremes.

Takeaways (if you even got this far!):

  • Don’t assume people are reading the whole article.
  • Put your most important information before the 60 percent point of the article.
  • When you want people to share the article, remind them to do that about 25 percent of the way through the article and again at the end.
  • Don’t assume that if people shared the article that means they read all or even most of it.

For more information:

Haile, Tony. 2014. “What You Think You Know about the Web Is Wrong.” http://time. com/12933/what-you-think-you-know-about-the-web-is-wrong

Adrienne. 2014. “You’re Not Going to Read This.” http://www.theverge. com/2014/2/14/5411934/youre-not-going-to-read-this

If you liked this article (and if you actually read to the end!), you might want to check out my new book, which covers this topic and 99 others! It's shipping any day now, and you can pre-order it from Amazon:

100 MORE Things Every Designer Needs To Know About People

Lastly, It might be too late to ask this (more than 25% through the article!): If you liked this article, please share it with your network.

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