Or not all of it, anyway.
Unsurprisingly, research shows that people don't read, they skim
.. although people spend more time on pages with more words and more information, they only spend 4.4 seconds more for each additional 100 words.. when you add more verbiage to a page, people will only read 18% of it.
Considering previous posts of mine stating American readership statistics
(58% of the US adult population never reads another book after high school. 42% of college graduates never read another book) I am not at all shocked by these numbers.
I know I
skim like a motherfucker most of the time.. it's when I stumble on something interesting
to me that I stop to really read thoroughly.
Nevertheless, there are two kinds of people in this world: Channel Surfers and TV Watchers. I have no doubt that the internet is merging these two kinds of people into (dare I say it, oh my barely-beating cynical heart) the worst of both worlds: net surfers (I feel uncomfortable using the more standard "web surfer", but I'll leave that for a later discussion). The content proliferates, yet is broken down into ever-decreasing bite-sized formats. This makes for people who can't consume a lot of one thing - or at least aren't used to - and yet they must continuously consume; a dangerous thing.
Some other bits from the link:
On an average visit, users read half the information only on those pages with 111 words or less.
Which means anyone who may have stumbled upon this page is already gone before they've read this sentence.
People spend some of their time understanding the page layout and navigation features, as well as looking at the images. People don't read during every single second of a page visit.
This is the part that actually surprises me a little bit, and is a vote in favour of better (and more) concentration on UI design. If it takes time to figure out how to use/navigate a site (or car, or watch, or doorknob) then it is probably, in some way, broken. I, myself, probably spend no more than half a second dealing with navigation issues on any particular webpage. I'm there for the content, and I'm immediately reading and skimming. While I'm surely being turned into a subconsciously zombified consumer what with all the banner, text, and flash based ads out there, I truly do not notice them or have any conscious awareness of their content. It is worth remembering that this isn't true for everyone.
So what does this mean? It means less than half the people who show up here even made it to the second paragraph of this post.