At some point or another, whether you’re working with a website designer or packaging designer – the issue of scan-ability has undoubtedly come up. Scan-ability refers to what design elements are not just scanned with a quick glance – but retained as well. I first heard of scan-ability when designing outdoor billboards for Xerox sales-agents – these billboards were often referred to as ’14-sheet’ and as you can probably imagine are assembled in sheets. You’ve probably seen the sign company employees pasting large strips of paper on the side of the roads – but the point is, that driving by these somewhat small billboards on the side of the road, usually at high speeds – requires that the information on the billboard not just be readable, but scan-able.
When reviewing design internally, one of my tools to determine scan-ability the ‘squint test’. Standing back and squinting at design allows us to push back the details of typography and other design elements to focus on weights or values. If a particular value has more density – it has less scan-ability. For example, a large block of text that is tightly kerned will be more difficulty to read than say a single-word headline with enormous amounts of white-space surrounding it. Now imagine you’re driving at 75 mph down the highway and pass a billboard on your right – you’ll rarely read content or a long headline. And the most significant information will have a higher value – such as a call to action, or if the billboard is an awareness campaign – a brand or brand name.
Now when it comes to website design – Red Rocket will contrast user behavior with scan-ability tests. Those of us familiar with ‘sight paths’ will recall that users will scan through a site in somewhat of a backwards ‘S’ pattern before diving into details or content. Over the years, this designer has refined that backwards ‘S’ to be somewhat more of a ‘drooping Z’ pattern where users scan across the top of the page about three-fifths of the way across and drop down quickly and move suddenly to the left, then returning to the are bottom right corner of the browser. It is at this key points – our ‘points of interaction’ are most commonly placed and given plenty of access-ability.
The ultimate result is scan-ability. Immediately upon landing on our sites, visitors will find all the calls to action – and continue on to visuals or details once they’ve determined the site to be trustworthy. Acknowledging that your visitors need to know how to interact with your site prior to their commitment to stay is an important aspect of every design here at Red Rocket. And using the squint test to determine how clear to make this path is a simple, effective method of understanding ‘scan-ability’.
Try it on your site – and ask yourself if your customers have a easy, straight-forward path to your calls to action. If not – it might be time to schedule a consultation with your favorite Fort Collins SEO company – Red Rocket.