It's a discussion that we have on a regular basis at mso - what's the best advice to give people when considering their content strategy - do you tell them to concentrate on the elements above the fold and hope that visitors will travel down the length of a page? Or do you take the view that scrolling is part of a user journey now that tablets and smart phones have usurped desktop?
We're always researching the issue, keen to give the most up to date insights. For some sites, it's not even an issue: tight, compact sites that are displayed in their entirety immediately on load. The potential headache occurs when you have sites that have fantastic, engaging content right up until the moment you read the footer navigation.
For those of us who have been in the industry long enough to remember the old regime, below the fold content was seen as the poor relation - ensure your main calls to action are above it, keep the important stuff at the top, we told clients. Now however, as our Millennials and digital natives will tell us, above or below is irrelevant - scrolling is king.
A brilliant study by Huge perfectly demonstrates the different types of design approaches which can affect users and influence their willingness to scroll further down a page. The stats whilst not life-changing are interesting and give designers the reasoning behind their choice of scrolling cue.
Another great article from Mike Cushing at 352 sought to test the stats suggested by Huge. They studied some of their sites and discovered that those sites similar in look to those in the Huge study (with a large top graphic) had much less success with scrolling to the bottom - with 40% of visitors going more than 75% further down the page.
Mike's response and those of Krissy Scoufis, 352's Associate Director of User Experience is something we're supporting: that scrolling is now an intrinsic part of the user behaviour on websites providing they perceive real value in doing so. In essence, they argue, if you have the data you can make the decision whether or not to add scrolling cues and that should be what governs their inclusion.
At the end of the day, designers and developers need to work together to maximise the user experience and ensure a site works to its full potential. The number of visitors, the length of time they engage with a site, how far they drill down is ultimately the responsibility of the web expert and since we have the tools to analyse that traffic, it should be at the forefront, pushing and driving a successful content strategy.