Thousands of studies have been undertaken to help web designers understand how internet users read websites.
One of the most common methods used is eyetracking. An internet user is wired up to a headset which tracks their eye movement as they look at a web page.
The software tracks both the movement of the eyes and the amount of time they rest on each area of the page. The longer the eyes remain, the redder the spot becomes.
The results of these studies are remarkably consistent.
Below are images from many different experiements undertaken by different researchers.
Can you see the common pattern?
When a typical web user lands on a page their eyes are drawn to the top left corner.
They then scan from left to right across the top of the page, usually to read the headline and top few lines of text.
Their eyes then move from left to right in an ever decreasing triangle.
This means that the most valuable bit of web page real estate where you should place your most valuable action (MVA) is:
This known as the golden square. Use this spot wisely!
Likewise the least valuable spot on any webpage is:
Anything in this area will be the last thing that readers look at. You will notice that a lot of webmasters who understand this research stick ads and sponsor links down the right hand side of the page.
When designing your website and deciding what goes where always remember the results of these eyetracking tests.
Put the most important information in the top left corner below the logo and the least important stuff in the bottom right of the page.