Episode 16

How Humans Read Your Website

Algorithms don’t buy from you, people do. This is why it’s so important to create your website with humans in mind. In this episode, we talk about how humans read your website.

How Humans Read Your Website

You’ve got a website. Awesome! You’ve spent a ton of time on keywords and search engine optimization (SEO) and trying to tailor your site to the algorithms. Well done.

But now you’re worried about how your website ranks. You know the algorithms are changing all the time. What does Google think of all that work you’ve done?

That’s a lot of worry. And, I’m sorry to say, the algorithm aren’t going to buy from your business.

People will.

So let’s talk about how humans will read your website.

What should be “above the fold” on your website

Remember newspapers? They came to your door every morning, wrapped in a blue or yellow or clear plastic bag, or rolled up with a rubber band and as you got ready to dig in, you saw the most important headlines right on the front, above the fold of the rest of the paper.

Your website has an “above the fold” too. This is the part of your website that people can see before they have to scroll.

That place on your website is key because science tells us that we have seven seconds to grab someone’s attention. That seven seconds is likely spent on the “above the fold” part of your website.

In those seven seconds, people need to be able to pass the grunt test. Can they grunt out what your business is, what problem it solves, and how they can take the next step?

The answer needs to be yes. Here’s how.

The ‘Z’ pattern

In the Western world, we read left to right. So the essential places in the “above the fold” part of your website are: upper left, then upper right, then lower left, then lower right. It’s a ‘Z’ pattern. These are the places where you need to make sure your customer can identify what you do, the problem you solve, and how to take the next step.

So let’s break down that ‘Z’: upper left, upper right, lower left, lower right.

  1. Upper left

Put your logo in the upper left part of your homepage.

We know you love your logo, but please don’t make it too big. It must be recognizable, but it shouldn’t overcrowd the other key items at the top of your webpage. People aren’t here for your logo. They want to know they’re in the right place, but the logo isn’t going to solve their problem. Don’t let the logo take up too much space or too much of your customer’s seven seconds.

  1. Upper right

Put a call to action in the upper right hand side of your homepage.

You’ll often see a menu button here, but you can customize that to have one item highlighted as part of the main tab. This call to action is whatever you want your customers to do to engage with your business. Buy Now. Schedule a Consultation. Talk to an Expert.

Make sure the button is a clear color, and use a font size that is bigger than the other fonts on your website. Keep it simple, but direct. If your customer did one thing today that would make you cheer, what would that be? That’s your call to action.

  1. Lower left (or centered on the diagonal of the ‘Z’)

In the lower left, or along the diagonal of the ‘Z’, include a simple, one-line explanation of your business, plus a so-what statement. This should not be clever. It should be so simple and clear it’s almost boring. You’ve got seven seconds; you don’t have time for clever.

For example, a bookkeeping business would have this one-line explanation: Bookkeeping Services for Small Businesses.

Or a lawn care business would have this: Residential Lawn Care Services.

Then add a so-what statement. For the bookkeeper, that might be: We take the worry out of your bookkeeping so that you can focus on your business.

Or for the lawn care company: During the week, we make your yard look great so that on the weekends you can enjoy the yard with your family.  

Simple. Clear. Easy to grunt.

  1. Lower right (or along the bottom line of the ‘Z’)

The final thing to capture “above the fold” is three simple values that you provide for your customer. We call this the value stack. Again, nothing fancy, not clever, but clear, direct, and providing for what your customer needs.

For the bookkeeper, that could be: affordable rates, reports that make sense, personalized services. The small business-owner needs to know they can afford the services, that they can understand the reports, that they know their unique needs are covered. All there in those three values.

For the lawn care company, that would look like: customizable services, recognizable crew, eco-friendly products. The customer knows that their specific needs are covered, they’ll know who’s working in their yard, and that they’ll be kind to the earth in the process.

Now they’re scrolling. Then they’re buying.

One additional note–make sure to have a great picture that’s happening in the background. Make sure it’s related to your business or services, and that it’s depicting what success looks like for your customer. Our bookkeeper example might have a picture of two people reviewing paperwork, both of them looking confident and enthusiastic. Our lawn care example might show a family sitting in a beautiful lawn.


Avoid the temptation to include a picture of someone on a mountaintop, or a beach, or the downtown cityscape. Unless these directly relate to your business, they’re too vague to make the most of your seven seconds with your customer.

You can spend time on Search Engine Optimization (SEO). You can do your best so that the algorithms find your website. But make sure that humans can make the most of it, too.

Build websites for people, not search engines.

And we’re here to help! Get a free website review through clarifymywebsite.com. We can schedule a time to chat, review what’s happening “above the fold” on your website, and offer tips and tricks you can try on your own. We’ll make sure that you’ve got a ‘Z’ that’s working for your customer, so that it’s working for you.

We also have more marketing tips on our YouTube channel, The Human Side of Marketing. Check it out here. We’ll make sure that your website works for humans and for algorithms. But mostly humans, because that’s who will click the “buy now” or “sign up” button.