By Frances Collins
10/07/2017
  1. Home
  2. Insights
  3. Article

How has reading changed?

On April fools day a couple of years ago National Public Radio news (NPR) decided to run an experiment. They had begun to suspect a large proportion of their social media followers were commenting and sharing posts they hadn’t actually read.

They decided to test the theory! NPR posted an article link titled Why doesn’t America read anymore onto Facebook – the article contained only instructions – asking the readers to refrain from commenting on the articles, ensuring the majority of the comments gathered were from non readers.

A recent study from computer scientists at Columbia University found that 59% of all links shared on social networks aren’t clicked at all.

When links are clicked, and the articles read, we now read them differently. Ziming Liu, a professor at San Jose State University reviewed the differences between how we read online compared to print and I recognised the results from my own behaviour!

Screen reading is full of browsing and scanning, keyword spotting, one‐time reading, non‐linear reading, and reading more selectively, while less time is spent on in‐depth reading, and concentrated reading.

So how do we write for this new digital era?

It needs to be scan-able.

We make decisions quickly. Rarely do we take in all available information and come to a logical, thorough conclusion – as much as we like to think we do! Daniel Kahneman, in his book Thinking, Fast and Slow talks of two modes of thought – system 1 and system 2. Where system 1 operates automatically and quickly with very little effort and system 2 involves complex computations and mental efforts. Increasingly we are wanting to glean information as fast as possible, using all the traits of system 1.

Structuring your content is therefore just as important as the words you choose.

We skim paragraphs, select keywords and ‘tweetable’ truths, spending less time grappling with the text itself. Delving into problems and exposing deeper revelations are now even less likely to happen in front of a screen.

This isn’t necessarily a problem. But we do have to be aware of context. If you want people to read what you’ve got to say online, learn the art of the short sentence, bold headlines and diagrams – or write a book!

 


 

Image from Shutterstock

Future: Mapping out the route
[quote id="1"] When your company is growing, how do you implement changes and build a strategy without losing current brand recognition? Building a brand for the future When building a…
Frances Collins - 02/07/2017
Why Flexible is the Future
Flexible branding, the concept and the term, is relatively new to the design world. Born out of necessity it offers something that rigid, traditional brand guidelines no longer can. We’ve…
Jo Wdowiak - 27/07/2017
Content driven brands
[media name="aol" layout="wide"] Perhaps one of the most innovative approaches to branding around at the moment is the content approach. AOL. is one of the best examples of this, Google…
Frances Collins - 02/07/2014
Trends of 2017
Material Design Back in the day we had skeuomorphism - the idea that digital elements should look like their real world counterparts. This is the reason why, for example, the…
Michelle Barnett - 02/01/2017