Does Anybody Scroll Anymore?

March 14, 2006

I’m in DC at the UIE Roadshow conference (… and I have to get this post out at a T-Mobile hot spot before my battery runs out.)

Anyway, Christine Perfetti from Jarad Spool’s company, User Interface Engineering, spoke about one of my favorite topics today: does anybody scroll anymore? I had this fight many times with the company that designed my website. They complained to me that my text was too long, and that no one would scroll down to read it.

In fact, Perfetti pointed out, people do scroll, but pointed out four major reasons that stop visitors from scrolling:

1) You have tiny text right above the fold (i.e. before they start scrolling) so it appears to be the copyright. When visitors see the copyright at the bottom, they know the page is over.

2) You’ve got a big white space at the bottom of the live window, so they assume that the page is over

3) You’ve got some kind of long horizontal line or graphic that signals “Page Over” to the visitor

4) The visitor gets what she calls Iceberg Syndrome. He doesn’t find any scent in the top of the page, so he freezes up and stops scrolling. Maybe bails completely.

I haven’t done the kind of user testing that UIE has, but I’d add a fifth reason to this list: Only a small part of the page is below the fold. For example, I tried really hard to buy this book (which is only coincidentally on usability), but bounced between two pages three times before I figured out that if I only scrolled a little more, I would find the “Buy” button.

I’ll write more about scent and usability (which affects conversion, because if they leave the site, how likely are they to buy?) in future posts. If Christina and/or Jarad get time between cities, maybe they will join us.