Seth Godin's blog today has a link to this preliminary report. Although the work was based on news web site, it has implications for the design all web sites.
"The Best of Eyetrack III: What We Saw When We Looked Through Their Eyes" researched how people read news web site. It looks at the impact of headlines, graphics, fonts, paragraph sizes, and more on the time a person spending reading the page. The preliminary report provides lots of details and may spark some interesting conversations on web design.
Here's one interesting fact. The first few words of a headline, paragraph, or blurb matter the most. Thus being succinct helps. Read the report for details!