One of the most common web user experience myths around:
“Users don’t scroll. All of the important information needs to be above the fold”
This myth originated from the early days of the internet when loading times were a lot longer, and webmasters put the most valuable information above the fold on their websites.
The way in which users interact with the internet and the technology available in the last 20 years has changed dramatically, and in this sense so much so that there is even data available now which proves that users do in fact scroll.
What is above the fold?
Above the fold was originally coined by newspapers as the top section of the front page which is what would be seen when displayed in the shop in order to grab attention. This has translated to websites as the section of the site which is viewable without the user doing anything.
Proof that users do scroll
A recent study by Chartbeat, a data analytics provider, analysed data from 2 billion visits and found that in fact a huge 66% of user’s attention is spent below the fold. This proves that the majority of people spend most of their time looking at content which is only viewable via scrolling.
Clicktale, who are a heatmap service provider, analysed 100,000 page views and came to the following conclusions:
- 76% of people used scrolled
- 22% scrolled to the bottom of the page regardless of content length
This proves that the majority of people know to scroll on a website and that a large proportion of people will scroll down to the bottom of a page.
What do we recommend?
Even though users know to scroll, the above the fold content will still get the most attention and will help your users decide whether to stay on the page or not. This can have a large impact on the bounce rate of your page.
We recommend having the following elements in the above the fold content:
- Main Heading: This will help the users to understand that the content of the page is relevant to them. Does it make sense that the user will land on the page from a link they’ve just clicked? If not it’s highly likely that the user will bounce off the page.
- Trust elements: If you’re using your website as a business it’s probably important for people to see trust signals such as review widgets when they land on your website.
If you’re finding that users aren’t scrolling on your site here are some things you can test in order to try and encourage users to scroll:
- Staggering content columns: This will ensure that there’s always one column that’s ‘broken’ by the fold and will tell users that there’s more content to come.
- Page trails: This is essentially subtle visual cues that tell the user that the content continues below the fold.
- Tell them to: sometimes the best thing to do is to be a little less subtle. You can do this by adding text prompting the user to scroll and visuals such as arrows pointing below the fold.