Website users looking to improve their website should avoid heavy formatting, according to one expert.

According to online marketing news website e-consultancy, usability expert Jakob Nielsen has said that often visitors ignore heavily formatted areas of a site as they assume it is advertising.

The site suggests that this could mean that internet marketing and advertising may be more effective if it is designed to look like content as it is more likely to attract attention.

Mr Nielsen looked at the homepage of the US Census Bureau, which displays US population numbers in heavily formatted, red letters across its top right page corner.

Using an eyetracking study he was able to conclude that 86 per cent of users would not have taken in this data – with some even looking to Google to find the information.

"It’s clear that users only fixated on the first third of the number that shows current population. In other words, people scanned that area, but didn’t actually read the number," he said.

In an interview with e-consultancy earlier this year Mr Nielsen revealed that he was surprised at the level of pop-up advertising that still existed on the web, but predicted that they were becoming increasingly unpopular.

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