Pulling Users Below the Fold

A call-to-action above the fold does better than one below. This is not a secret to marketers. But sometimes users need more information before they will buy. Sometimes they aren’t ready to buy at all, and need to be converted into a subscriber. Sometimes a user needs to browse through your page before they find what they need, and if you cram everything above the fold you’re only going to paralyze them with indecision.

Sometimes, you need to pull your users below the fold.


The Fold is Not a Barricade

Eye tracking studies have consistently revealed that users do scroll. One of the brightest spots on your heatmap is the scroll bar. Users look at it to figure out how long the page is and how much content is below the fold. According to research by CXpartners, it’s also possible to encourage scrolling by:

–        Avoiding horizontal lines, especially high contrast ones. Users tend to interpret these lines as an indication that the content is over. The fewer horizontal elements you have, the more likely users are to keep scrolling down.

–        Don’t use in-page scroll bars. The browser scroll bar is one of the most important ways users assess the length of a page. An in-page scroll bar can confuse the user into thinking that all of the content is above the fold, when in fact there is a lot of scrolling to be done. This might cause them to conclude that you don’t have what they’re looking for, and leave.

–        Don’t shove too many things above the fold. Pick your most promising call to action and use it to take up most of the space at the top of your page. Make sure that some of the supplemental content peaks up above the fold, hinting that there’s more to be seen if the user wants it. It’s good practice to make it look like this content is “cut off.” Research has demonstrated that this “less is more” approach works. It allows users to focus all of their attention on one call-to-action at a time, while understanding that there are other options. Users actually scroll more when there is less information above the fold.

According to research by Clicktale, the length of a web page has no influence on whether a user will scroll down the page. It’s not “the fold” that causes users to focus on the top of a web page more than the bottom. It’s the simple fact that users naturally assume that the first thing they see on your site is the most important.

In fact, about 22 percent of users scroll all the way to the bottom of the page. This figure is not impacted by the length of the page at all.

By cramming everything above the fold, you are actually giving the user too many choices at once, and most likely decreasing your conversion rate.

What Really Needs to Be Above the Fold

Users can leave if the content above the fold fails to impress them, but this is not because users are unwilling to scroll. Here’s what really needs to be above the fold.

–        The purpose of the page – This is priority number one. The user wants to know that they landed on a page designed to solve their specific problem.

–        Navigation – This is a simple question of expected protocol. Users expect to be able to get where they want to be from a menu bar above the fold.

–        A good impression – Put simply, the content above the fold should immediately tell the user that their experience with the site will be pleasant, it was designed by professionals, and it has the mood and feel they’re looking for.

And really, that’s it. From this point forward, it’s no longer about “the fold.” It’s about…

Visual Hierarchy

You want users to be able to find what they’re looking for by skimming through the page. That means your most important information should be bold, subtitled, or easily found in a list. The more visual, the better. Use images to draw attention, and buttons instead of links for your call-to-action and navigation.

Address branches clearly. Users like choice, but don’t like being overwhelmed with it. Don’t try to force the user to take a specific action with a big obnoxious button. Give them a choice. At the same time, don’t cram too many choices into one place.

For example, for users that are browsing through a particular category, your highest converting options should be largest or closest to the top. The less promising options should be smaller or toward the bottom.

But there is a very good chance you wouldn’t want to place more than three items on the screen at the same time. Studies have shown that most people can only perceive four items simultaneously, and even that is more work than they’d prefer to handle.

As another example, suppose you only have one product to sell, or the user has already chosen a product. You will want it to be obvious to the user how to make a purchase, but you will also want to give them a choice if they haven’t decided yet. Give them a “learn more” button to address the fact that some of them aren’t ready to buy. These people will be more likely to leave your site than click the “buy now” button. Best to keep them on your site.

What are your thoughts on “the fold?” Be sure to pass this along if you liked it.

Original Source: http://www.localsurgemedia.net/web-design-1/pulling-users-fold

January 22, 2013

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