6 Ways to Hook the ‘Scanning Eye’

B Y   T O M   T O R T O R I C I

When you visit a new website, do you read every word on every page, from top to bottom?

Of course not. Nobody does.

If you pay attention to your attention online, you’ll find you start out by visually ‘skimming’ the page. What your eye takes in during this initial scan determines whether you’ll dig any deeper. And if nothing really grabs you, you have a Back Button, and you know how to use it.

Unfortunately, website designers are sometimes too focused on aesthetic considerations to inspect their creations from the perspective of real-world buyers with limited time, patience and attention spans.

So let’s consider a few ways to hook the scanning eye, and make people curious enough to want to know more. Because if you don’t, it’s unlikely any money is going to be changing hands today.

1. Turn key selling points into headlines.

The scanning eye is typically drawn to prominent headlines, so exploit that opportunity by conveying your most important competitive advantages here. Be as specific as you can, and try to focus on customer benefits, not just product attributes.

2. Keep written content bite-size.

That means breaking down your content into topic sections. One effective formula consists of a brief, bold header, followed by two sentences of text. And the text should be oversize, to make it more ‘accessible’ to the eye.

3. For bulleted copy points, don’t use bullets.

Instead, bold the first word or two of each line, and add a bit of vertical spacing between lines of text. If you compare this technique with traditional bullets, you’ll see which is better at grabbing the eye.

4. Employ carefully-crafted subheads.

After a big, brief headline, add a slightly longer subhead in a medium size font. People are more likely to read these than jump into small paragraph text. Subheads also act as a visual ‘bridge’ between the headline and the text.

5. Ask buyers a strategic question.

A headline in the form of a question might be more engaging and impactful than any statement you could make. For example: “Wouldn’t you feel safer with your cloud backups in four places instead of one?”

6. Take a fresh approach.

If you truly want to stand out, read through your competitors’ websites so you know what to avoid. Common sales cliches, after a while, just become background noise. To push through to the foreground of people’s awareness, stand for something unique.

Remember, this may be your website, but you are not its intended audience.

Every day, there’s a company owner approving a new website design because “it looks good to me.” However, now you have a template for assessing things from the point-of-view of the people who, in the end, will determine your success.


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Tom TortoriciAbout the Author:  Tom Tortorici is an Atlanta copywriter and web content writer who helps companies make a genuine connection with their audience. His classes and conference presentations have focused on how writing, strategy and design can work together to grab attention and interest even among readers with short attention spans. In addition to working directly with businesses, Tom regularly partners with web designers and marketing agencies.

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Tom Tortorici Inc. | Tom@TomTortorici.com | 770-934-7861 | 3101 Rockaway Rd | Atlanta GA 30341