Finding the Prime Real Estate on Your Sites

I recently read a couple of very interesting reports that were done on people’s eye movement habits in regards to websites. While the report had a lot of science behind it the findings were pretty simple and, I feel, very insightful. I know I learned a lot just by checking it out. I thought I would share what I learned here.

There has been a long standing belief on websites that the prime piece of real estate on any site is the top middle of the page. This report proves that is incorrect. As it turns out the prime piece of real estate on any page is the upper left hand corner and the area surrounding it. Why? The reason is actually pretty simple. People are taught to read from left to right, top to bottom. So when a new web page opens we look to the top left corner out of habit. There are exceptions to this rule though which also make sense. I you have a site with multiple pages on it and they are all designed with the same layout a visitor will quickly adapt to that layout. If your pages are all designed to have your content in the middle section of your page then the visitor will quickly adapt to looking there first for the content. However if it is a new site to the visitor and they don’t know what to expect, they will typically look to the upper left hand corner out of habit.

This means that the upper left hand corner is your prime real estate. I see a lot of sites out there with counters up in that corner or having that space empty. If you have something of little value up there, or nothing at all, you are giving away the prime area on your website. 

Below is a sample blank website that I colored in, using my limited photo shop skills, to show the prime areas of the page. These colors represent where the visitors in the test reported looking first as a site loaded. The red represents where the most people looked first with orange next then green, blue and last purple. The interesting thing is that a decent amount of people report looking at the right hand column area first. This would indicate that they have been trained by search engines that place sponsored search results in that area. It’s something to keep in mind when designing your sites.

Hopefully this chart and this short article will help you rethink your site designs. I know, for me, it was a big eye opener. I have a lot of sites with next to nothing of value in the prime areas and things of actual interest in the not so valuable areas. It’s time for a redesign.





Post Your Comments

WARNING: Any comments you post are solely your responsibility. accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever in connection with or arising from such content. Defamatory, derogatory, or other comments that we feel should be removed will, at our own discretion and ours alone.