To Scroll or Not To Scroll

Making a new website is hard for everyone – creative and client included. The process can be fraught with anxiety and unease, especially from a client’s perspective. Not everyone creates websites regularly; that’s why people hire us. For those who feel less informed about the web, you have to place significant trust in us. And your website is a critical touchpoint for your business. There is a lot of pressure. We understand this.

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Let’s talk about your site’s header. Also known as the banner, hero, or marquee section. It’s the top portion of a webpage that is immediately visible upon loading. This is where unease often rears its head. Generally, we’ll use rich, high-quality images up-front in order to give the best possible first impression of you and your brand. From there, the user scrolls down to see further information about your company. Or does he? Should we put an arrow to show him where to look?

Do people know that they should scroll down?

Huge ran an experiment a few years back that conclusively proved that they do. And there are numerous other resources throughout the internet that also support this. If you’re persuaded by data.

If you’re not, let’s talk this through together.

Are You Old?

As the eldest member of the Bullhorn team, I feel that I’m qualified to play this card. Don’t take offense. If you grew up pre-Internet and pre-mobile phone, interacting via scroll may be a novel interaction, but for anyone that matured in the current technological climate, scrolling will feel as natural as turning pages in a book. If you were to consider the perspective of someone under, say, 40 years old, are you still as unsure that they would instinctively scroll?

Conversely, though, if your core target audience is similarly uninitiated, then they very well might not intuitively know to scroll. And that would be one instance where a visual indicator could be a useful addition. Is your audience old?

Don’t Insult Your Audience

How we design your site has a direct impact on how the user experiences it. Adding scroll indicators can confuse your audience. Humans have limits to their attention. We want 100% of that attention to be on your content. Do you want their first impression to be distracted? Would you feel insulted by a refrigerator with an “open my door – food inside” sign?

Technology Changes Quickly

Five years ago, people didn’t really think too much about how a site’s design would work on mobile phones, but today, you’d be crazy to not account for them. Within a year or two, the majority of your web traffic will be coming from these devices (if it isn’t already), so it is vital to think about your site through this lens.

More users will be touching glass than clicking a mouse.

That action is transforming the way we view websites. Scrolling is a foundational interaction on mobile devices. Mobile-first design anticipates the user experience our mobile-first world has come to expect from the internet. We want to future-proof your site so that you don’t have to replace it in a year, two years, five.

Is this the best use of our time?

There’s never enough time. With a finite number of hours to design and develop your website, compared with everything else your site must do (impress the user, display your expertise and knowledge, potentially generate sales, etc.), how important is holding the user’s hand and walking them through the site? Even if it takes less than an hour for us to design, develop, and test this theoretical visual scroll indicator, could that time be better spent on some other aspect of your site? For example, we could discuss ways that your site could work for people with visual impairments instead.

Being told to simply “trust us” is often the last thing you want to hear.

We do understand that you may be anxious when embarking on this journey with us. But we have your best interests in mind. Because of this, we will let you know if we think our efforts could be better utilized in other, more beneficial areas. At the same time, we will hear you out if you disagree with us. This is a collaborative process.

Your success is our success and we can only get there together through clear communication.

Read the first post in Patrick’s series, Can You Fold the Internet?

What’s the most effective way to launch your new brand?