The client is always right.
That’s definitely the first rule to remember, mostly in my industry. After having dealt with over 100 clients, my web design and ecommerce development “sixth sense” always suggests: the client is always right.
“I want a blue ribbon”, “I’d like a green border”, “I prefer this…”. To be honest, this is why I love working with real people. It’s the challenge of making every client happy that motivates me.
But after attending dozens of seminars and presentations here in California, I’m afraid, I changed my mind. The client is not right any longer – her customers are.
So, let’s break one of the top myths in web design: “Nobody scrolls, I want all of my content to be placed above the fold”.
1. Experts say: scrolling converts more
Third party social proof is the best way to break a myth.
There is no doubt scrolling is back. After 5 (or maybe 10 years) of “above the fold” or “in the visible area”, web design is now moving towards VERY long sales pages, scrolling homepages and put-as-much-as-you-can product pages.
Top UX (user experience) experts all over the world have been doing million dollar testing on what sells more. And scrolling pages win in most cases.
Websites need to be longer as people buy more products or services, or get to find more links and more opportunities to stay on the website.
And the longer a customer stays on your website, the more likely you will convert that sale.
Top takeaway: make the most out of existing test results
2. We scroll everyday
I can’t believe it’s only been since 2007 we’ve been “swiping” iPhones (and iPads only since 2010). I would have said at least 10 years since the first iPhone – but no, it’s only been 7!
Well, with 170 million iPads (Oct 2013) and 800+ million iPhones (Nov 2013) sold as of December 2013, and “only” 2.8 billion of internet users in the world, it means at least 1 third of the world population scrolls/swipes web pages everyday. Without even excluding the other tablets/phones. It wouldn’t be a bad guess saying 2 thirds of the internet population does scroll, everyday.
Yes, it’s both habit and expectation. People are used to scroll. People expect to scroll. Links to go from page to page get much less clicked than it used to be. If your page does not communicate the message in full, your website will be abandoned, and a competitor of yours will benefit.
Oh, and if your website is not “responsive”, that’s game over.
Top takeaway: think about your customer and their expectations
3. The most successful websites want people to scroll
I could copy and paste hundreds of homepages here, but I don’t want you to scroll too much before we get to the point 🙂
Ever heard of Twitter.com? Or maybe that annoying Facebook.com? And Ebay, Amazon, Fiverr, news websites, and so on? Users want absolutely everything on the homepage nowadays. Take a look at Reebok’s:
Oh – and by the way – if you’re reading this right now, it’s another proof internet users actually scroll – if content is relevant to them. So, the perfect balance between page length, content, images, message and story needs to be achieved.
Why are the “internet giants” doing this? Well, they spent millions and millions of dollars in testing. They sent half the traffic to a short page and half the traffic to a modified, longer, homepage, and calculated their sales conversion rate.
Long pages won.
Top takeaway: if you’re not sure, take a look at those websites that get millions of hits a day. They’re 100% optimised for the internet audience. If they do something, so should your website
4. Longer pages is better SEO
The longer the page, the more content, the more keywords Google might be able to rank your page for. As I said in the past, and even in my latest book, it’s important to write for users and not for search engines.
That’s what search engines want, too. A super awesome user experience.
Longer pages, however, allow you to space out your paragraphs and headings, add more links to your own content, and show Google your website is actively supplying information.
If you don’t trick the search engines, you’re already doing great. And if your website pages are long, you have definitely more chances to be indexed by Google, Bing and Yahoo.
Top takeaway: optimise your website for humans, and you will be rewarded by search engines as well
5. You have more time to turn prospects into buyers
One of the best statistics I found while writing my book (“Ecommerce and Beyond: 9 Steps to Skyrocket your Sales Without a Degree in Rocket Science“) was: “The time customers spend in shops determines how much they will buy” (~ Paco Underhill).
This is so true. There is nothing else to add.
Think about big retail brands and how they either make it difficult to find the exit (Ikea) or try to hold you inside as long as possible (here in California, every worker in Trader Joe’s will start chatting to you). The time spent in the shop is proportional to the amount of money customers spend.
Hint: you’ve got to keep your customers on your website for as long as possible!
One trick that could change your online success? Install an online chat service – so that you can interact with your users as if they were in your offline shop.
And yes – you got it: long pages help keep your customers interested in your products, for longer.
Top takeaway: offline and online sales rules are exactly the same. Walk into a major retail store and apply the same strategies to your website
6 thoughts on “Short Web Pages Don’t Sell: 5 Reasons Why Scrolling is Good for You”
Really helpful article! Indeed this is something I’ve been observing for quite a while and probably it is the reason why landing pages format tends to be are a lot longer than it used to nowadays.
Thank you Adriano!
Good article! I often use those myth-spouting client conversations as an opportunity to discuss issues such as responsiveness, information architecture and SEO, but it always comes back to the same thing: clients are mortally afraid that their very important call to action, product message or video will not be viewed if it isn’t the first thing that customers see when they land on the page. Designers and clients well-versed and practiced in traditional media are even worse — there is very little chance of you convincing them that a website users’ eye behaviour is different to a magazine or newspaper.
My suggestion is to merely try to sell them on changing that solid hard “fold” to a very blurred, very loosely dotted line, over which content can spill out according to its importance.
Totally agree Ryan, thanks for your feedback!
What I do now is simply asking clients to take their smartphone and visit whatever website… it’s guaranteed they will scroll for 5 minutes before they find information. Then, I send them to the same version of the website on a laptop and see what they do. 99% of the time they will scroll down – and clients will be delighted with an instant proof 🙂
May I know how long would long be?
I am planning to combine 12 pages of a single product information (which consists of pics, graphics, text, etc) to 1 long web page.
Would you feel this would be a good idea. The scroll could be 2-3 minutes long scroll.
Ahmad, thanks for your feedback! I don’t think there is a recommended “length rule” for sales pages. In my experience, it does not matter how long a page is – the point I made in the article is that they should not be short 🙂 Just make sure the most important content is in the first 20-30 seconds of scrolling; also a long page is good for SEO in my opinion so I would not worry about the idea of putting all that content together! Let us know how you get on 🙂