Poynter Institute did some tests on web reader not just newspapers. (Please red the post: Design Facts).
Technology that Poynter Institute use to get informations about how eye moves across the screen is called Eye Track technology.
Eyetracking research captures and analyzes the eye’s gaze, its fixations and movements. It has been conducted for decades and applied to ATM design, cars and other engineering challenges.
The Poynter Institute has been pioneering EyeTrack research for journalists since 1990. EyeTrack07 is Poynter’s fourth eyetracking study and it is distinctive in several ways.
Findings about web reader:
Readers’ eyes fixated first in the upper left of the page (generally around the site’s flag or logo), then hovered in that area before going left to right.
Navigation elements at the top of a home page attracted a lot of attention.
Dominant headlines drew the eye first upon entering the page — especially when they were in the upper left. Larger headlines drew more attention than small.
Underlined headlines and visual breaks — like a line or rule — discouraged people from looking at items beyond the break.
Text, not photographs, was the entry point into home pages.
Short paragraphs received twice as much attention as long.
Lower parts of the screen — especially areas one would have to scroll to see — received modest viewing.
The standard one-column story format performed better than multiple column formats.
Summary descriptions (extended deck headlines, paragraph length) leading into articles were popular.
Ads in the top and left portions of a home page received the most attention, and placement near popular editorial content helped attract eyes to ads. Big ads were viewed more than small.