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I'm interested in making pages that don't conform to the traditional layout of a rectangular grid, for example:

  1. Using a grid of hexagons or triangles.
  2. Placing the title in the center of the page with the content flowing in a circle around it.

Aside from the basic concept up-->down left-->right, are there any studies about how the user would visually approach such a page? Do people tend to travel around circles clockwise or counter-clockwise? Are they more likely to travel downward first or rightward first?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

There are two main eye patterns for web design.

The first: F-Shaped Reading Pattern

The second: ZigZag/Triangle Reading Pattern

Deisngs that fit into one of these two will work well with user. However if you are looking to get even more creative you can try out using the Golden Ratio to design a webpage, specifically placing content in the golden spiral formation.

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Thanks. The second link is along the lines of what I was looking for, albeit a bit un-academic. I still need two more reputation points to upvote your post, but once I get them, I will. –  3nafish Dec 2 '12 at 5:45
    
+1, great links. And @3nafish: you have them now... –  Marjan Venema Dec 2 '12 at 9:36
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For cultures with written language, reading direction is subjective. In Asia some cultures read from right to left.

Based on what we expect to experience, we generally read from the top left downward and lastly, to the right.

You can draw the readers attention using contrast (of size or color) and you can lead them using lines and alignment. A sunburst, for example, will draw the user's attention to the center of the screen.

People tend to scan webpages. Adding links, bold text, and headlines helps them find what they're searching for.

enter image description here

Notice how the gray, blue lines draw your eyes to the envelop.

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Thank you for the response, but it doesn't really answer my question. I understand that they are many ways to draw a user's attention to a particular part of a page, but I'm wondering if (in an unrealistic laboratory layout of equally sized, equally bright, equally colored, equally shaped elements) there are any studies about particular patterns the eyes follow around the page. –  3nafish Dec 2 '12 at 0:18
    
I recognize that reading direction varies between cultures, but given that this StackExchange is in English and my own site's in English, it's safe to assume that I'm mainly interested in users who are used to reading left-to-right, then top-to-bottom. –  3nafish Dec 2 '12 at 0:22
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