Some time last year, the Nielsen Norman Group published a paper about “glanceable” reading. NN/g defined glancing as quick reading of short text.
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:
- Use larger font sizes for anything that needs to be glanceable
- Avoid all-lowercase text
- Use larger heading text in wider fonts
- Avoid condensed or thin typefaces
- 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.