People do scroll below the fold – you’ve just proven it.
Yet we often still have the same old conversations with clients…
Image credit: Brad Colbow
Maybe not quite like that but you get the picture.
“This, this, this (and of course, that) need to be above the fold”
Back when newspapers were the most popular way to catch up on events, the concept of “the fold” was crucial to grabbing the attention of viewers. Engaging images and bold headlines convinced readers to buy one newspaper over the other, and this concept made its way into web design too.
While the area at the top of your page still counts for directing an audience and revealing the intent of the page, it’s no longer a good idea to cram all your valuable information into a single slot. If you did, you would probably end up with something looking like this…
Over the decades, the web and its users have evolved. In the nineties, scrolling may have been a legitimate concern for designers and developers – forcing them to place content at the top of a webpage, but today things have changed – users are now far more comfortable with scrolling, as numerous studies have proven:
- “Chartbeat” (a company for data analytics), looked at data from over 2 billion unique visits and found that “66% of all attention on a typical webpage is spent below the fold.”
Image credit: Tony Haile—Chartbeat
- ClickTale analysed 100,000 page views and found that people used the scrollbar on 76% of all pages, with 22% scrolling all the way to the bottom (regardless of page length).
- Milissa Tarquini of TMZ.com found that the most-clicked homepage link was at the very bottom of the page.You can find even more case studies at the bottom of this post.
The way people browse has changed
Realistically, placing most of a page’s information above the “fold” is no longer as simple as it sounds – given the rapid rise of mobile and tablet internet browsing usage.
The latest report suggests that nearly 60% of online searches come from mobile devices. The ever growing number of screen sizes means that the fold is an inconsistent measurement these days.
Image credit: OpenSignal
As you can see, there are no general rules regarding the location of the fold, as it can vary dramatically from one screen resolution to the next.
Fortunately, the rise of mobile browsing has also helped to ensure that “above the fold” marketing is no longer relevant. After all, smaller screens and devices have forced the average internet used to adapt.
Today, when an internet user visits a website, they wouldn’t expect to see all the information they need right there on the webpage in front of them. If they were to see everything at once, the chances are that they would need to zoom in just to read it.
In a nutshell, today’s average mobile experience is built around the ability to seamlessly scroll through websites, and so we’ve gotten more used to this motion as a natural part of browsing online. Whether we’re looking through product listings on our favourite store, reading the news, or scanning Facebook feeds, we’re used to dragging our fingers across the screen and moving through page, after page.
Smooth, seamless scrolling
As ‘scrolling’ has become more deeply engrained into our daily browsing habits, our mobile behaviours have transferred onto desktop platforms too. In fact, design agency “Huge”, measured the presence of scrolling in various tests for usability and discovered that:
“Participants almost always scrolled, regardless of how they are cued to do so.”
In other words, we expect to have to scroll “below the fold” to find what we want from any given webpage.
This is part of the reason why designers are now focusing on delivering smooth and seamless scrolling experiences – rather than attempting to fit crucial content into a small and difficult-to-read box.
Designs are becoming increasingly more interactive and user-oriented, and scrolling is an important part of this. Parallax scrolling and other developments have even meant that scrolling no longer seems like a chore to the average user – it’s simply a convenient way to experience the internet and a website.
Setting the record straight
Though it’s true that the top of your web page still has an important role to play in capturing attention and outlining the purpose of a page – it’s not the only crucial element for a designer, developer, or marketer to think about.
Perhaps the most important thing to learn today, is that you don’t need to design “above the fold” to offer a great customer experience.
Instead, good UX relies on using a well-thought-out information hierarchy, smooth design, and engaging elements to keep users moving naturally through a website. From visual elements that draw the eye down the page, to compelling content that pulls the user in, there are several ways to make scrolling an organic part of online browsing.
Website users scroll.
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