Week 9: The science of reading online

Photo by ThisIsEngineering on Pexels.com

A lot of your audience is likely to find and consume your work on their phones, so it’s worth determining how to present your stories in the most effective way.

People read content on a mobile completely differently from the way they read on a desktop. Eye-tracking studies measure where the eye is looking and how long it spends at each point on a screen. 

The desktop ‘golden triangle’ – readers concentrate primarily on the top left corner of a page:

F-shaped (Nielsen, 2006) – the dominant reading pattern resembled the letter F.

There isn’t enough space on a mobile screen for horizontal sweeps and vertical movement. Instead, viewers focus their attention primarily on the centre and top half of the screen (Briggsby, 2014).


This is a good thing to know when you’re planning how to position content on any platform or web page. So think about page elements such as featured photos, headlines, text, and video.

People tend to linger longer on photos or other graphic imagery. You can read more about techniques for creating content for mobiles here.

Great photography

“A picture is worth a thousand words” is an adage in multiple languages meaning that complex and sometimes multiple ideas can be conveyed by a single still image, which conveys its meaning or essence more effectively than a mere verbal description.


One of the best ways to learn how to take great pics is to go out and take a lot of them (and using a mobile as a camera is absolutely ok). But some YouTube lessons and a bit of reading also help 😇

Photo resources:

Finally, an important development in the world of media: The High Court ruled last week that media organisations are liable for defamatory comments posted on the social media pages they manage.

This is an issue anyone working in media should know about. You can read more here.

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