Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Does scrolling beat paging?

Your website visitors know how to scroll, according to internet guru Jakob Nielsen's latest report, based on an eyetracking study of over 500 webpages. Nielsens findings show that a website visitors viewing time was typically spread 80% above the fold and 20% below the fold.

"The fold" is the content visible on a webpage without having to scroll. This obviously varies depending on the size of the monitor used to view a webpage. You can read more about the fold on our website.

Important information goes above the fold

With 80% of visitors attention going on what they see without having to scroll, placing important information above the fold is critical. If you have a long article it is better to deliver it as a long page with scrolling than to split it up into short pages. You may need to write it in such a way that the important stuff comes first, a little like a magazine article is written, or if you are not able to structure the content to have the import information above the fold you can use clues to draw the attention of your reader to the text below the fold.

A visitor to your website should be able to understand who you are and what your website is about from the information presented above the fold. After that, if their attention is caught, they will scroll. A poll on about.com indicates that 49% of people will scroll if the page seems useful and only 5% of visitors hate to scroll.

3 Tips on scrolling

  1. Don’t try to squeeze your content into your page to make it more compact because most visitors will scroll down below the fold to see your entire page
  2. Make life easier for your visitors when scolling by dividing up your layout into sections
  3. You can encourage your visitors to scroll with teasers or a cut-off layout (such as cut off images or text)

    Stop worrying about the fold - Scrolling BEATS paging

    Placing important information above the fold is still a primary consideration for content writers and editors. Website visitors are comfortable with scrolling and are prepared to scroll to the bottom of the page in some cases.

    Read the full report on Jakob Nielsens Alertbox

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