Your Users Don’t Read, They Scan

When looking for information on a website, the users do not actually read word by word, they really scan the pages looking for the information that they are interested (Krug 2006). Krug provides some factors for why we as users do not read and we prefer to scan: “We are usually in a hurry”, “we know we don’t need to read everything”, and “we are good at it” (Krug 2006). This is still the case today and I also would like to add the following:

  • We know that we have more alternatives. If we cannot find the info, we can go to another site.
  • When we scan, we look for context. We look first for keywords that we are interested in and then read the sentence or paragraph. So, we don’t need the whole page to know what it is about.
  • If the content is disorganized, we get frustrated and move on to another page.

This implies that we as designers should take into consideration that users do not read and we need to use just the right amount of text and visual clues in our designs. The hierarchical structure of the page has to be very clear so users jump to the sections that they need instead of spending time searching for them. For instance, on long text, try to use subheadings trying to divide the text into sections. In addition, those sections should have keywords that might be interesting for the users when scanning.

Satisficing in Relation to Scanning

Satisficing is related to scanning; we can say that it is the step that follows scanning. After we scan a web page, we select the option that “satisfies” our needs (Krug 2006). Unconsciously, we tend to make a decision that is good enough instead of keep looking for an optimal decision which is the reasoning on Satisficing based on Herbert Simon who coined the term (Weinschenk, 2011).


Krug, S. (2014). Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A common-sense approach to Web Usability. New Riders.

Weinschenk, S. M. (2011). 100 Things Every Designer Needs To Know About People. New Riders.

Teylor Feliz
Teylor Feliz

Teylor is a seasoned generalist that enjoys learning new things. He has over 20 years of experience wearing different hats that include software engineer, UX designer, full-stack developer, web designer, data analyst, database administrator, and others. He is the founder of Haketi, a small firm that provides services in design, development, and consulting.

Over the last ten years, he has taught hundreds of students at an undergraduate and graduate levels. He loves teaching and mentoring new designers and developers to navigate the rapid changing field of UX design and engineering.

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