Sales & support  01738 700 006
Evolving User Behaviour Is Leading To Changes In Design Styles.

by  David Dwyer on  09/03/2015    1651 Reads

Why your web visitors are happy to scroll down through your site

Time was when people got all their information from newspapers.  Newsagents folded the papers in half to save space on the shelf, so editors put all the important news - the headline that would entice people to buy one paper instead of another - above the fold.  The concept of "above the fold" is still strong in direct mail campaigns (open some of your junk mail one day and you'll see what I mean).

The idea was also applied to web design, to the extent that an awful lot of content was forced above the line and sites looked crowded and unwelcoming.  The idea dated back to the 1990s, the birth of the internet, when scrolling was a new concept and internet speeds were slow.  Content loaded at a snail's pace, so you wanted you reader to see the important bits as soon as possible.  The reader wasn't familiar with the concept of scrolling down.  Mice didn't have scrolling wheels in those days and scroll-bars hadn't been invented: you had to click down from line to line.  So the rule was born that all your vital information and calls to action had to go above the fold.

Well, things have changed a bit since 20 years ago.  We now have mice that work and scroll-bars at the sides of pages, and we're accustomed to using them; we even use our fingers to move pages around.  We also access the internet via a wide variety of devices.  Laptops, tablets, mobiles and PC screens are all different sizes and content takes up different amounts of space on them.  As a result, the concept of "above the fold" is very out of date in web design.

Yet there are still a lot of websites with far too much going on above the line: text crammed in so it's unreadable and off-putting, call-to-action buttons demanding you click them, graphics and slogans crowding out what little space is left.  None of that is going to help a business sell online, and it's totally unnecessary.  Most readers would much rather have a bit of breathing space on a site and scroll down when they're ready to read more.  Think what happens when you're on Facebook or Twitter: you can scroll down for as long as you like.  Online newsfeeds are the same.  There's no need for business websites to be any different.

There is still an important role for the area above the fold - its original role, in fact.  Think of it as your headline, or the opening paragraph of a thriller.  It's there to draw people into your story, grab your reader's attention and make him or her want to scroll on down to find out what happens next.  It should be punchy, short, easy to understand and enticing.    Everything else can go below the fold and your reader won't be able to resist scrolling on down to read it.  There's plenty of space down there, so why not use it?

David Dwyer is Managing Director of Inspire Web Development. He has years of experience in a range of web and IT roles plus seven years in sales and marketing in a blue-chip FMCG company. David's academic and professional qualifications include a BA (Hons) in Business Economics (Personnel & Ergonomics) from the University of Paisley, an MSc in Information Technology (Systems) from Heriot-Watt University and PRINCE2 Practitioner-level certification. He is also an active member of the British Computer Society, Entrepreneurial Exchange and Business for Scotland.

Follow Inspire on Twitter @inspireltd and @developersos

Inspire Web Development, Inspire Web Services, The Evolving Web, Web Design
Name
Email
Phone
How can we help?
To comply with data protection regulations (2018), we are unable to store and use your information unless you give us your permission. Please select Yes to allow this. View our data protection policy for details.
 
 
Name
Email
Comment
To comply with data protection regulations (2018), we are unable to store and use your information unless you give us your permission. Please select Yes to allow this. View our data protection policy for details.