Belief: The page fold is an impenetrable force that blocks the user from moving down the page.
Truth: Less than 3% of users have been unable to reach the content they want easily because of the fold.*
The ‘fold’, for those of you wondering what on earth I’m mildly ranting about, is a term that we digital marketers refer to as the bit of the webpage that sits on your screen before you have to scroll.
I have spent years selling solutions to clients that emphasise how critical it is to make sure your key CTA is above the fold, don’t go below the fold NO! Danger zone, make sure you clearly explain to the user that they have to click if they want to move or scroll down… don’t leave it to them to work it out!
Well, you’ll be glad to hear, technology has moved on considerably in the last few years. Phew. Now though, it would seem that we aforementioned digital marketers have done such a good job of explaining the fold to our clients, that we now have the huge task to explain that the fold no longer really matters.
Because; we have stacks of user testing that tells us that they don’t mind scrolling. JGI, you’ll see.
Because; long pages often give us the info we want without clicking through to seven different areas of the site.
Because; eye tracking software tells us that the eye runs in an ‘F’ formation quickly first and then guess what? Yep, down the page.
Because; users are used to keeping a mouse over the scroll bar and, wait for it, they know the size of the scroll bar is indicative to how long the page will be.
Because; actually users want to be encouraged by the fact that content is clustered in ways relevant to them and, finally…
Because; we have so many beautiful and rich ways of displaying content now, that it’s less about getting them straight to the CTA that the business cares about, and more about giving them the information they want in an easily digestible way to enable them to make the right decision.
It’s not about the linear journey anymore; click homepage, see CTA for more info, click through to product overview page, click for more info, click through to product detail page… (you get the idea).
And if you still don’t believe me, look at these guys bold enough to laugh in the face of the fold:
VW: http://beetle.com/ (love this site)
NY Times Magazine: http://www.nytimes.com
Now go and be scroll free and happy…
This image is from a book by Scott McCloud, I recommend his stuff, check it out here.
*Source: Independent eye tracker survey across a sample of 800 people of varied skill sets.
Great read. I think tablets are also making this transition easier, as people become more and more used to using their fingers to physically move the page. Scrolling becomes fun again, as opposed to a chore, and is no longer limited to a single direction.
Here’s another example I stumbled across recently, which works great on a tablet: http://space.angrybirds.com/launch/
I agree, by adopting this thinking as well it will future proof cross platform solutions thus saving money in the long run.
Love the angry birds site!
Also, check this out: http://iampaddy.com/lifebelow600/ it’s going on my meeting room wall, thanks Chris!