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Do people use back to top links?

Some websites have links like Go To Bottom or Go To Top.

It seems like this technique has fallen out of style. Are there good reasons not to provide these kinds of links? Please provide references.

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marked as duplicate by JonW May 1 '12 at 7:47

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"Go To Top" makes sense, but I don't remember "Go To Bottom" links. Why would someone want to jump to the bottom? Do you mean skip navigation? –  Patrick McElhaney Aug 23 '11 at 11:56
    
My guess (as in personal anecdote but no hard data) is that the ubiquity of scroll wheels on mice and two-finger scrolling on touchpads has made scrolling more accessible, and people have learned to use to the extent that those jump links are less helpful. –  Todd Sieling Aug 23 '11 at 14:08
    
I think they should be up for a rehype. I find them useful on small screen devices (phones and such). –  Inca Aug 23 '11 at 16:29
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@inca disagree, this should be a standard gesture in the browser, it doesn't make sense for the responsibility to lie to the website. I'm not familiar with other brands, but iPhone has this functionality built into most of their apps for example (tap the top toolbar to go to top of the page). –  Anson Kao Aug 23 '11 at 18:46
    
I don't think "Go to top" it's a bad idea. Actually i was tempted to create a thread to add the functionality to this site. I consider myself a mouse user over those that tend to use more the keyboard. Obviously we can't add a button just for me, but i don't like to go to the right of the screen, holding the left button and go up. I would rather use the "Go to top". In a good position (depending on content), i think it's ok. –  Ator Aug 24 '11 at 18:43

4 Answers 4

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Reason 1: Your site will look like it's not been touched since 1996.

Reason 2: It will mean that your pages are far too long, if users can't just scroll to the top or bottom.

And Reason 3:

Jakob Nielsen

http://www.useit.com/alertbox/within_page_links_comments.html

Jakob's answer: Yes, "return to top" can be avoided, because the exact same functionality is provided by simply dragging the scrollbar to the top of the page. It's almost always better to rely on a single, generic interaction technique so that users don't have to ponder the choice between two alternate interaction techniques for the same goal. The time it takes to make the decision is usually more than the time saved by the shortcut. (The exception would be for extremely long pages that would take forever to scroll, but such pages should be avoided in the first place.)

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I think Jakob Nielsen's argument is nonsense. People don't have to choose between options: they'll not evaluate the options and then pick the best, they instinctively use the one most familiar to them. There is no problem with having two ways to accomplish the same. (Just as ctrl-Home, mouse wheel and scrolling the scroll bar all can do the same.) –  Inca Aug 23 '11 at 16:32

I've always found these annoying and in my experience users never used them. The end/home and pg up/down keys largely provide this functionality from the comfort and speed of the keyboard. Less directly but more accessibly the scroll wheel and scroll bar provide more accurate and more universal functionality without cluttering your page at all.

More subjectively the top/bottom links always seemed near useless to begin with; what's at the bottom that I need? I know where the top of the page is, why are you giving me a link to it? A website inherited had a little javascript div that would follow your window and "pop" in to give you directions on the page. I couldn't get rid of it fast enough.

The one exception I've found is mobile sites, where I don't want to scroll all the way up, but often the problem there is lack of navigation; I scroll all the way to the bottom to be greeted with no nav bar. Good mobile sites often have a nav bar at both top and bottom.

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This is just my opinion, not based on any hard data, but I think the reason why we don't see Go To Top links anymore is because the footer has broadened it's scope and is not just a place for copyright information, more over a new well of content, where a full navigation, such as the one usually found at the top of page, can reside.

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Because those links are useless clutter.

To go to the bottom or top, users can use the Home or Ctrl-Home (resp. End) keys, or simply scroll up or down with the wheel. This is obviously faster than noticing a "go to top" link, positioning the cursor, and clicking.

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We say stuff like that pretty casually, and then we find studies like this one goo.gl/RmY6u - 90% of people don't know how to use Ctrl-F. How likely is it they know to use Ctrl-Home? –  Alex G Aug 23 '11 at 7:50
    
Yes, case-in-point; it's news to me! I'll remember that Ctrl-Home shortcut now though. –  JonW Aug 23 '11 at 10:06
    
@Mechanicalsnail Please cite references in your answer; just offering your opinion holds little value on this site. –  Rahul Aug 23 '11 at 11:24
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@Rahul mass of people (ala the professional deep-readers) those using only references to promote The Site and who don't have their opinion. yes? –  igor Aug 23 '11 at 11:44
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I think the important thing is that you explain how you came to your opinion, whether it was informed by academic studies, someone you consider to be an expert, personal experience, anecdotal evidence, or just a hunch. Answers that are based on hard science will inevitably get more votes, but answers that aren't can still be helpful. –  Patrick McElhaney Aug 23 '11 at 14:42

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