The Amazing Flight of Little Ray displayed at 50% of viewport width
July 2019 by V. R. Duin


He also knew that he'd have to hurry.
Otherwise, his mama would worry.
Besides, the air seemed far too dry.
He swung to and fro, a determined try.
(The Amazing Flight of Little Ray)

Time constraints introduced an F reading pattern into the online speed reading of websites, social media and advertising, giving writers seconds to resonate.

This pattern shows the importance of writing for the Web. Writers do not benefit when traffic clicks away, closes the page or stops navigating. Writers must be aware of the preferences of their market.

Mobile devices call for brevity and minimization. Non-mobile-friendly sites rank poorly, if at all, by search engines. Google, Bing and others offer tools to evaluate and improve the speed performance. Many are free.

Users' eyes track away from blocks of text. They scan the side of the screen, pausing for a few brief lines at a time, rather than reading from beginning to end. Colors, trim and images may direct and hold attention.

“F” for failure: Writers must get to the point with writing for social media and Book Promotion websites. The constraints of highly scheduled and tightly structured lives leave people with less time to read.

Most readers start at the top left corner of the screen. Eye-tracking studies show people read most of the first line, skim the left margin to view a partial line, then start moving away in an F-shaped pattern.

Scanning may be diverted by another link. The average visitor spends less than 30 seconds on a site. Metrics typically stop at one hour. Only 2-3% of visitors spend an hour or more on this author's websites.

Visitors scan a page in a visual hierarchy. They check headlines at the top of the page, travel down the page for highlights, and finish with a quick view of bold text or sub-headlines in the middle of the page.

Web pages should be focused by subject. They are not lumped together like books. Separate subjects are on separate pages. The use of separate blog and website addresses drives traffic to relevant and updated content.

Re-purposing print content rarely accommodates speed. Key points must be highlighted with bold type, bullets or lists for rapid scanning. Reading word-by-word is rare. Research frequently stops at culled “snippets”.

Surfers fixate on action. They share popular content. Status accrues with taking part in huge numbers. Attention attracts increasingly greater attention. Quality of content is particularly important for writers.

Writers must be bold. Useful revelations with a touch of irreverence and humor may catch attention. Learning the reading habits and accommodating speed reading needs of the target audience help project authority.

Web readers use their navigation bars. Well-organized information is structured around this viewing perspective. Writers must explore a wide variety of technological platforms for distribution and display of work.

Internal links are important structures. These links connect content within a website to other relevant pages, images or resources within that same site. They aid navigation and establish information pathways.

It is important to cut to the chase. Long and confusing productions of any nature are unlikely to maintain attention to completion. Attention is subject to wandering. Unfriendly content goes unread.

Lengthy texts and oversized images are rejected across the Web. Browsers stop scripts that are voluminous in content or overly frequent and repetitious in nature. These alerts may drive away future traffic.

“Likes” are helpful in every language. They have become a measure of a writer's potential for success. People travel quickly through material from a maximum of connections. Any acknowledgment is flattering.

Modern readers seek paragraph breaks. The first two paragraphs must contain the most important information. Visitors read more of the first paragraph than the second. Third words are read less often than the first two.

The literary world allocates seconds to submissions. The need for speed is acute for literary agents and publishers. Unsolicited material may be ignored. Most books placed with large publishers are agented.

Literary agents take aim at narrow targets. Representation for contact of a specific person, company or organization for a specific purpose may be successful. Blanket representation of unknown authors or books is rare.

Failure predominates for unknown authors. Nobody wants to promote failure. Failure is not good for reputations or careers in the literary world. Nobody gets paid unless the work sells. The business goal is to sell books.