Myth #3: People don’t scroll
Although people weren’t used to scrolling in the mid-nineties, nowadays it’s absolutely natural to use the browser’s scrollbar. For a continuous and lengthy content, like an article or a tutorial, scrolling provides even better usability than slicing up the text to several pages.
You don’t have to squeeze everything into the top of your homepage or above the fold. To make sure that people will scroll, you need to follow certain design principles and provide content that keeps your visitors interested. Also keep in mind that content above the fold will still get the most attention and is also crucial for users in deciding whether your page is worth reading at all.
Many research findings prove that people do scroll:
- Heatmap service provider ClickTale analyzed almost 100.000 pageviews. The result: people used the scrollbar on 76% of the pages, with 22% being scrolled all the way to the bottom regardless of the length of the page. That said, it’s clear that page top is still your most valuable screen estate. - Unfolding the Fold and ClickTale Scrolling Report and Part 2
- Usability expert Jakob Nielsen’s eye-tracking studies show that while attention is focused above the fold, people do scroll down, especially if the page is designed to encourage scrolling. - Scrolling and Attention
- Upon reviewing the analytics data of TMZ.com, Milissa Tarquini found that the most clicked link on the homepage is at the very bottom. She also points out that polls and galleries at the bottom of AOL’s Money & Finance homepage get a lot of clicks in spite of their position. - Blasting the Myth of the Fold
- Another eye-tracking study conducted by CX Partners confirms that people do scroll if certain design guidelines are followed. - The myth of the page fold: evidence from user testing
- Usability studies by the Software Usability Research Laboratory’s show that users can read long, scrolling pages faster than paginated ones. Their studies confirm that people are accustomed to scrolling. - The Impact of Paging vs. Scrolling on Reading Online Text Passages
- Jared Spool’s usability tests from 1998 tell us that, even though people say they don’t like to scroll, they are willing to do so. Moreover, longer and scrollable pages even worked better for users. - As the Page Scrolls
- SURL conducted another usability study, confirming that people find both scrolling and paging natural on search results pages. - Paging vs. Scrolling: Looking for the Best Way to Present Search Results
More articles about scrolling:
- In July 2011, Apple removed the scrollbar from Mac OS X (it’s the default setting, though users can put it back). This clearly shows that people are so familiar with scrolling that they don’t even need the visual clue for it.
- Jared Spool’s article on design guidelines to encourage scrolling: Utilizing the Cut-off Look to Encourage Users To Scroll.
- Chris Fahey describes how the fold became more nuanced in The Scrolling Experience and “The Fold”.
- Don’t miss Life below 600px, a witty article on the page fold.