Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Readers have distinct preferences when it comes to reading news on a tablet

A study of how people read news and information on their iPads suggests that they "shop around" considerably before settling on something to read, that they spend 98 seconds on the first story they choose and, if they don't stick with a story, they usually "bail" about 78 seconds in.
 The eye-tracking study was conducted by the Poynter institute and reported on its website. (The results may prove instructive to magazine publishers, editors and web designers as they design and develop tablet editions.)
The same 20 stories were presented to the participants in three prototypes -- a "traditional newspaper" with a dominant photograph and headline; a "carousel" design, with images and headline for each of the 20 stories; a flipboard design with four images that highlighted one story from each category.
Among the things the study revealed -- based on the activity of 36 people in two segments (18-28; 45-55)-- were:
  • An average of 18 items were viewed before making a first reading selection
  • Readers expressed a strong preference for holding their tablets horizontally
  • 50% preferred the carousel design, 35% the traditional prototype, 15% the flipboard
  • The over all average time spent on a story was 98.3 seconds; the "bailer's point" was 78.3 seconds, suggesting, said the study, that at that point a "gold coin" might have held them -- a pull quote or other visual element. Readers have an overwhelming instinct to swipe horizontally through all the pictures in a gallery, regardless of whether in portrait or landscape orientation
  • People will default to what they know are are familiar with -- for instance, using the browser back button rather than the home button or various navigation design elements
  • Faces in photography and videos attract a lot of attention
  • Readers were either "intimate" (61%) with their iPads, keeping nearly constant contact while touching, tapping, pinching and swiping or they were detached, carefully arranging a full screen before sitting back and reading
[Thanks to 10,000 Words from mediabistro.com for making us aware of this story]

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