AMPERAGE Marketing & Fundraising

One-Minute Marketer“Glanceable” Reading

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“Glanceable” Reading

Some time last year, the Nielsen Norman Group published a paper about “glanceable” reading. NN/g defined glancing as quick reading of short text. Picture of hands tapping on laptop

Glancing may happen when you’re looking at your smartwatch to check a temperature, score or text. Glancing occurs when the background has text over it. Website, mobile sites, sales flyers, reports and case studies. When I was a nonprofit board member, I’d observe other board members shuffling through long documents basically looking for pictures or headlines and then voting on the proposal. Reading the document could not have been accomplished in the meeting.

NN/g also referred digital-based graphic designers as “interaction designers.” I love this concept of dedicating your design to emphasizing with the audience which is distracted, multitasking and experiencing too many inputs in a day.

We tend to look at design as artwork on a wall: We display it without any competing noise or environmental factors, we look at it far longer than any user will see it, and we tend to look at it holistically rather than the way people hunt through a design to find relevance.

So, as “interaction designers,” what to do? NN/g did some research and suggested a few ideas:

  1. Use larger font sizes for anything that needs to be glanceable
  2. Avoid all-lowercase text
  3. Use larger heading text in wider fonts
  4. Avoid condensed or thin typefaces
  5. It may seem profusely clear, but to work in a micro-reading session, type must be abundantly “legible.” 

Anything that causes a readability deficit should be avoided at all cost. In this micro-session world, people are just glancing. It is our goal as marketers to make an interaction happen.

Written by:

Mark wrote his first direct-mail fundraising letter in 1981 for the University of Iowa Center for Advancement. The effort raised a few million dollars in undiscovered wills and legacy gifts. From that day forward Mark discovered a love of the big idea that moves the needle. After 12 years at KWWL, Mark became a business owner as a co-founder of ME&V — rebranded as AMPERAGE in 2015. After 25 years of leading creative teams in video production, graphic design, PR, writing and web development, Mark transitioned out of ownership in 2021. Today he serves in an employee role as special projects consultant. He is creatively ambidextrous — son of an artist and engineer — and famous for distilling complex ideas down to a few words and a few visuals. Mark is a writer. When he found that many nonprofits struggled with complex branding puzzles, he wrote the book, “NonProfit-NonMarketing .” He also wrote a novel called “Reenactment.” Mark is an active blogger OneMinuteMarketer® with nearly 1,000 readers each week on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. One of his most popular YouTube videos is on “How to Look Good on Zoom.” One of Mark’s fondest business memories was being named to INC 500 two times and attending the INC 500 conference with other winners. Mark is considered by some a Civil War expert (and that explains his novel). Mark also served as an adjunct professor in the business and in the communications departments at Wartburg College. Mark is a graduate of the University of Iowa and is currently vice president of the University of Iowa Journalism and Mass Communications Advisory Board. Mark is married to state Sen. Liz Mathis, and the two love to travel, even when it means being trapped by a volcano in the Czech Republic for three weeks.