That’s a statement and a half really isn’t it? This might be a can of worms being opened am not sure…
When i first started designing websites, everyone was seriously obsessed with the fold, and ensuring that everything was squeezed above the fold, when designing for 800×600 resolution.
Those days where, fun would we say? Well, i don’t know if i would really put it that way but it was the way of the digital world.
I recently come across the following article http://www.lukew.com/ff/entry.asp?1946 and it got me thinking about the whole subject again and a conversation i had about 6 years ago.
Someone “That button needs to be above the fold”
Me “Where is the fold?”
Someone “You know that line on the website where you cant see things”
Me (wtf) “Which line? Would you say your content is engaging enough to engage people to scroll down”
Someone “I don’t know, i just cant see a button”.
Bear in mind this was for a website, which will remain nameless, that its pure function was to write articles and posts – quite heavy and rich with content (and media too – videos etc).
I was in a user test quite recently where 5 out of 9 users scrolled directly to the bottom of the page, and used footer links and more specifically the related search terms at the bottom of google search results – while i wasn’t shocked, i was more surprised at the number of people in the user test who had similar behaviour for different reasons, which made me think about the above conversation again.
We are in a world of flick scrolling being a instant interaction on some pages, BBC was one of the first arguments i had about scrolling and long pages – their pages never suffered because they where long, their content was rich enough to engage people to use the website.
The point LukeW makes below, the issue isn’t where the call to action is on the page, the issue for most is if the call to action is in the right place where you convince a user to take action.
Now, am i saying the fold doesn’t exist? like good old neo and the spoon? good god no, its evident from heat maps, scroll maps and user testing that the fold is still important, the user experience of a website is set by what they initially see at the top of the page regardless of screen size and “fold”.
See the following article http://www.nngroup.com/articles/page-fold-manifesto/.
If you look at that link, google has done some recent studies into this which is a worth while read.
They mention that users don’t scroll for fun, they scroll for a purpose which ties nicely into the user testing and my whole points for this – the people in this user test, weren’t web savvy, they aren’t what I would call typical web users, yet because of their behaviour on other websites and experiences with google (verified with post test interview questions), they scrolled directly to the bottom of the page.
If there was a point to all this – I would say simply, engage your users to interact with your website – don’t focus purely on the fold, as users behaviour and interaction changes, you might just miss the people who like the links at the bottom!
Encourage your users to scroll, to interact – and that magical line might not be so much of an issue no more.
[PS ill never be a copywriter! thank god]