How do we Read from a Screen.

If there are approximately, Nielson (2009) 1,733,993,741 internet users that are suffering the web and reading what is on the page that is placed in front on them then this must have an overall effect to how reading is perceived on the internet as least 90% of web pages are designed to the same parameters.

Going back in time to a different product this may give the reader a better view to what is and what might be happing.

Henry Ford made the first production car there was one color and that was black so the buyers of the car did not mind as the idea of a car became more assessable to the every day person, production grew an after a period of time a large percentage of the Americans population owned a car.

Every body could afford a car it wasn’t until the car became a living requirements and in real terms a necessity to ever day life. Has this happened to the world wide web has the web got to a point as did the Model T Ford did back in the 1930, has the world web became an obsolete necessity like the car back in the 1930.

In a product life cycle a product will reach to a saturated point one or two things will happen the product will slowly disappear or the product will start to branch out into different areas for the World Wide Web.
The above example is very basic but the point is this has the world wide web as a product started to hit a point not in the areas of that it is starting to disappear but it has started to become an necessity way of life not just a information tool.

If this is the case does this mean that a different way of thinking is required so the net and the computer can become more sociable not as tool but as a way of life.

Duchowski (2006) “Computer companies and designers are spending millions of pounds on research and development, and covering every aspect on how to improve every design possible, not only as a product, but trying increasing the usability which can affect all the users that are reading form the internet and web”

Extensive research has been carried out from every point and angle on how we look and read from web pages the following examples are mainly design with the view of how web designers design web page to try to obtain the most effective acknowledgment to how the reader is viewing the contents on the page and how the eye tracks the information on the screen.

Nielson (2006)

The Above examples looks at the a standard page of a web site design in this instant the eye tracking “heat map” shows how much a users looks at the different parts of a Web page.

The most areas looked in those colors in red, the next color is yellow, and these areas indicate fewer fixations followed by the least-viewed blue areas. The gray areas didn’t attract any fixations.

The heat map clearly shows users’ tendency to read in an “F” pattern, an F pattern is an area where the eye track to what you are reading, in this case, the pattern has left an F shape of the page.

From this example the most and intension area is the information that is presented in  Bullet and number presentation, from all the reading a have came across and most the reach, the most viewed and concentrated reading, are those not in what you would call traditional type format, i.e. what we are used to reading , i.e. books and standard type format  which you can find on a piece of paper, in the number format, i.e. point s, that are condensed into points and small abbreviations , not continuous sentences and standard paragraphs format, that we are all used to.

What can this tell us, about reading from standard webpage design, for the purpose of the article we have mentioned that this example, is of what we will class as a standard webpage design.

A standard webpage design will be classed as a

  • Top Section (Header Section)
  • Side Sections (Both sides)
  • The middle (this will containing the main reading and information areas

From all the reviews, reports and comments, the general thought is that the, people at the moment prefer to read form a piece of paper or book, than form a screen. Why do people prefer paper to the screen, or this slowly changing, due to the modern technology advances and people’s sociability and active life style?

Shaw, Inman, ‘et al ` (2008); All the reports and reading that have been covered, is that the screen does have problems, but in real terms, areas that have been pointed out, to what might be the reasons, why people still prefer paper to the screen.

  • scrolling patterns: pauses between scrolling movements (Dyson and Haselgrove, 2001),
  • awkward/cumbersome navigation (Dillon1994; O’Hara and Sellen 1997)
  •  a lack of complete overview of document (O’Hara and Sellen 1997)
  •  lower tangibility of electronic documents compared to paper (Hansen and Haas 1988)
  •  an unclear awareness of the length of documents (O’Hara and Sellen 1997)
  •  lower reading speed caused by the poor screen resolution (Mills and Weldon 1987;
  •  learning of lower quality compared to paper documents (Hertzum and Frøkjær 1996)
  •  potential fatigue if reading is over an extended period (O’Hara and Sellen 1997)

 Much of the research indicates that reading on-screen is “generally less appealing than reading from paper” (Enright, Grabe, Koda, Mosenthal, Mulcahy-Ernt and Schedl,

One main point  that all reports do agree is that there is no one factor no one single factor can account for why reading on screen is perceived to be more difficult than reading on paper, the other point is that reading on a screen tents to 20/30% slowly than reading from a piece of paper.

This has covered the main principals of what the problem may be when reading from a screen and a webpage. All the above items are standard problems and have been researched in to a great deal.


About martin smith

A degree in Engineering Management ,who is just trying to make life a bit easier, for anyone who wishes to read these articles. View all posts by martin smith

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