Paul Sturgess

Below the page fold

A study involving some 800 user testing sessions was recently published by CX Partners that dispels the usability myth that users do not scroll.

The page fold is the point at which the user can no longer see the web page content without having to scroll their browser. As Webmonkey points out:

“It’s a term leftover from newspapers where the primary headlines are above the fold, so those walking by a newsstand would see the important stuff even though the paper was folded in half.”

This study by CX is particularly interesting though as they have been able to utilise eye tracking software that shows the scrollbar is used by users to figure out if there is additional content to be explored. This is a very strong case against creating custom ‘in-line’ scrollbars on websites. However, not all devices have visible scrollbars, the iPhone being the prime example.

There are other ways to encourage the user to scroll and according to the results of the study less content above the fold actually encourages exploration below it. The study also found that in just 3 occassions when the user did not scroll it was because of a strong horizontal bar across the page that users perceived to indicate the bottom of the page.

It’s important to note that this study is not saying that important content should not be at the top of the page, just that not all of the page content needs to fit into the top of the page.

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Comments: 2

commented on

Excellent, some cold hard science to point a client to when worrying about getting it all in at the top.

commented on

If I had a dollar for every time someone wheeled out that old chestnut... I'd have at least 50 bucks ;)

Remember people: There is no fold.

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