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12 May
To Scroll or not to Scroll?

Posted by Chuck Bankoff On May - 12 - 2010

First off, I want to go on record by stating that scrolling is not inherently evil… or disastrous. In fact it may be infinitely more desirable than trying to fit 10lbs of crap into a 5lb bag.

Over the years I’ve had several clients that understood what the “Fold” is, and proclaimed that “Nothing must be below the fold!” (The “Fold” is the point on a web page where a visitor would have to scroll down to see the rest of the page.)

The difference was that some of those clients weren’t willing to shorten or sacrifice some content to make it happen. Instead they directed us to “fit it all in.” The end result was a lot less effective landing page.

In fact, I have the dubious distinction of developing perhaps the worst landing page ever created (albeit under duress).

The client had us pack it above the fold with so many attention getting devices (animation, bright colors, too many graphics, etc.) in an effort to avoid scrolling, that all those elements canceled each other out. We had to use a complex structure of nested tables (tables within tables). Not a very sound structure for a variety of reasons… but the design was so compact, that we discovered a typo, and by adding one additional letter “e” to the end of a word, it tore the entire design apart.

That might be a hint that your page may be a little too crowded.

No matter how sophisticated your visitors are, they probably have the attention span of a 6 year old. You only have 2-8 seconds to win over your visitor, so above-the-fold info must contain enough convincing data to win over these short attention span visitors.

The truth is that people WILL scroll down to see something they are interested in. The trick is to get them interested immediately. Scrolling isn’t exactly a laborious activity; you just have to convince your visitor that it is worth it.  How do we do that?

Headlines… Images…Bullet Points…Minimal Distractions!
In other words, info that can be digested at a glance.

Tips:

  • Concentrate on a headline that is large, intriguing and descriptive.
  • Make the first paragraph particularly engaging and unintimidating.
  • Make sure that any “Offers” or call-to-actions are above the fold (supporting info can be below).
  • Make sure that any images serve to brand you, or to tell a relevant story.
  • Repeat important info below the fold so now the visitor doesn’t have to scroll back up in the other direction.
  • Realize that different people have different screen resolutions, so the fold is in different locations for different people. Cater to the lowest reasonably popular screen resolution. For now it may be safe to assume if you can see the pertinent info at a screen resolution of 1024 x 768, that almost everyone will see the info that you want them to see.

Summary: Don’t sacrifice functionality and common sense for the sake of scrolling! As long as the important stuff is visible at a glance, interested visitors will make the effort…

Check out other ways your site’s content and landing page design can deliver profit!

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About the author: Chuck Bankoff
Chuck Bankoff is a WSI Certified Research Analyst, and has certified other WSI Consultants around the world in Landing Page Design and Conversion...read more

 



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