I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard this. Usually from someone who isn’t a UX expert. Let’s put it to bed. It just isn’t true. And if it is true on your website, then there’s a good chance it is a consequence of your design or content rather than an inherent failing on the part of your visitors.
Not scrolling isn’t necessarily a bad thing, by the way. A travel sector client I’ve worked extensively with caters for key tasks so well that few visitors ever have need to explore the homepage further. They can immediately see how to begin their journey into the website.
But more often, both our own usability testing work and that of others shows that people will scroll, given sufficiently interesting content and a design that encourages them to do so.
If you want to research this yourself, some good starting points are:
- This 2015 article published on the Neilsen Norman Group website which explains that people will scroll if encouraged to do so
- Design Agency Huge’s 2014 study into whether people scroll and what the most effective design cues are
- Chartbeat’s analysis of data in 2013 which identified that “even if not every reader scrolls down the page, the vast majority of readers’ collective time is spent below the fold”.
So where does this research leave us?
Given the wide range of screen sizes and devices out there, there is no such thing as a single fold. It will vary for every screen size. Designing for the fold is not a concept that exists in today’s digital world.
What really matters is the first impression that we create, which must meet or exceed expectation. If this is achieved visitors will see value in the content provided and will scroll to read more, especially if they recognise a design cue to do so.