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Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2007 at 9:28 am

Below the Fold, Size Doesn’t Matter

By Ronald Patiro
October 10th, 2007

Graph of page length and percent of page viewedThe ClickTale Blog has some valuable insight regarding page length and visitor interaction.

According to ClickTale, total page length is not a strong factor in terms of how many people will scroll below the fold or reach the bottom of page.

  • The average location for the fold is between 430 and 860 pixels down on the page.
  • 76% of people will scroll below the fold.
  • 15-22% of people will reach the bottom of the page.
  • 64-68% of people will reach the halfway point of a page.
  • 91% of pages are long enough to require scrolling.

This makes me wonder whether the same groups of people make it to the bottom of the page, regardless of where their web surfing takes them. This appears to relate to how different personality types interact with the web. Each type prefers to navigate in their own way, and particular groups, like Methodicals and Humanistics, are more deliberate in their information gathering and decision-making. These types make it to the bottom of the page far more often than their Spontaneous and Competitive cohorts, who demand instant relevance or they’re gone.

As the ClickTale article suggests, people are scanning and skimming a page’s content regardless of its size. Web developers should back away from trying to squeeze content toward the top of a page in order to supposedly make it easy to scan. Using proper amounts of white space, headers and sub-headers, along with bolded text and bullet points increases a page’s scannability for all personality types.

But keep in mind, shorter pages did perform slightly better. “Almost identical percentages of page views (15%-20%) reach the page bottom regardless of page height.” While the data was fairly similar regardless of the page length, shorter pages were closer to the 20% range.*

When it comes to critical elements, like calls to action, you don’t want 5% of visitors not seeing it. Pages have more power when they stick to one main idea per page. And remember, copy should be long enough to cover the essentials but short enough to be interesting. A site will generally get better search rankings by having highly relevant links from page-to-page. So, there are advantages to leaning toward shorter pages, but don’t sacrifice clear page design and layout to squeeze a few pixels off of a page’s length.

Bottom line: If you have good, well-formated web copy, they will scroll.

[*Note to Direct Marketers: Your ridiculously long, heavy-handed sales pages might be overkill.]

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Comments (10)

  1. Interesting data for sure. When designing web pages, we use 565px as the height of the page fold, since we are “still” taking into account 800×600 resolution screens. Really, that height works for 1024 resolutions as well.

    So like you said, the CTA’s are at the top. Then if the page is going to scroll we put a photo right at the 565px height to force the eye to that area and entice them to scroll down the page to read the valuable content we are presenting. Then we also test adding another CTA towards the bottom of the page. This is usally a softer sell or a pull towards valuable content.

  2. [...] Below the Fold, Size Doesn’t Matter [...]

  3. [...] article commenting on the ClickTale data had this to say: As the ClickTale article suggests, people are [...]

  4. I’d agree with that!

    Hey Ronald, that’s the very basic fact I love about this post which I believe holds true today.

  5. WOW, great info, i try very hard to keep things above the fold, this makes me think i need to rethink how i setup sites.

  6. [...] A magazine layout can potentially avoid some of the old “below the fold” usability issues, but as monitors scale upward, this becomes less of an overriding factor. [...]

  7. [...] Patiro at GrokDotCom wonders whether it’s got something to do with one’s personality type. I think the explanation is simpler: If the content is interesting, if it meets the reader’s [...]

  8. I know this is an old post, but it’s a live issue for me right now!

    What about e-commerce e-mails? We’re testing an editorial e-mail approach, but it’s still heavily graphic, with hardly any copy above the fold. (I think that’s called “sabotaging the test,” but I’m a copywriter, so I may take a more jaundiced view of such things… ;-) )

    Anyway, e-mail recipients are notoriously impatient. Would they, too, bother scrolling below the fold? Or not? Any data on this?

    Thanks much!!

    Diane

  9. Interesting data for sure. When designing web pages, we use 565px as the height of the page fold, since we are “still” taking into account 800×600 resolution screens. Really, that height works for 1024 resolutions as well.

    Nice! thank you

  10. Interesting article. Will join your newsletter for future advice. Thanks

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