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I'm re-designing a website and some of the feedback so far is that users may get lost because there's whitespace between sections of content. (Actually, it's not always white space, there's a variance of color as you go down.) Their concern is that users will not scroll and see the rest of the page that's "below the fold" because there's no content visible to indicate that there's more content.

I understand the fold issue, but every monitor and device is different, and the location of the fold varies widely. Do users these days really not know to scroll down? Do we still have to put all our homepage content on the first screen?

I hesitate to squish the content close together because it looks cluttered and untidy. Granted, having the content closer will indicate to the user there's more on the page to see. But is that really necessary? I feel dirty taking out the nice clean whitespace because a major purpose for this new design is to reduce the clutter and wordiness on our current site.

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The rule of thumb here is to at least set an expectation for the user that there is more below the fold. if there is too much of a gap between the top area and the rest of the content (say 200px or more) it may be difficult for the user to otherwise instinctively determine the need to scroll, aside form the size of the browser's scrollbar.

You can set the expectation by:

  • Providing a visual indication that there is more (via an explicit arrow, or a design element that will bring the eye down)
  • Ensuring the gap is not too large between the feature content and below the fold content
  • Providing sidebar content that will lead the user downward.

Ultimately, your users will determine the answer for you. Try doing A/B testing on this. Great article here:

http://www.conversion-rate-experts.com/scrolling-tips/

Personally, I don't believe in the fold either. Here are some support articles if you want to read more about the Fold to justify that users do scroll:

http://uxmyths.com/post/654047943/myth-people-dont-scroll

Here is an excellent example of screen scrolling with a visual indicator of content, and an explicit CTA to scroll:

http://www.evanshalshaw.com/bondcars/

  • In addition to A/B testing - some good old fashioned usability testing can quickly show whether it will be a problem. – adrianh Apr 2 '14 at 7:34
  • Addendum to your first bullet: Rather than having an arrow or some other explicit "there's more" indicator, make sure as well as you can that the stuff below the fold extends up above the fold a little bit. – Ken Mohnkern Sep 8 '15 at 13:51
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http://iampaddy.com/lifebelow600/

http://www.cxpartners.co.uk/cxblog/the_myth_of_the_page_fold_evidence_from_user_testing/

These two articles got me really thinking about this after "the fold" was brought up from a couple clients I was working with a year or so ago. The long and short of it is, it's 2014 and people know how to scroll. Whether or not you give them a reason to is entirely up to the designer and content creator. If the user finds value in your site and what it offers, of course they will scroll.

In Joshua Porter's "Designing for the Social Web", he brings up a great anecdote with Amazon. Their reviews are located at the bottom of the page below the product info. He noticed through a few usability studies for an e-commerce site that people were going to Amazon to check reviews even if they were buying the product on a totally different site.

If it's something the client is really concerned about, test it with some users and record your findings. It's hard to argue with data.

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In general ... I dislike scrolling. I want as much info as possible in one view - so that means minimal empty (glaring) white space (esp. with so much contrast-lacking grey text being used). So I would much prefer page links (whether via Contents list or bottom page numbers is less important).

A forum is one exception - but the better ones have a maximum of (say) 20 comments before page-changing. Some of my favourites have about 10 comments per page.

A long article may go below the fold - with a visual clue - but IMO shoull be no more than 2 full screen's worth. Any more and the article should be broken into sections. (If a 3 page article doesn't break, it's probably too wordy !)

Full screen width can lead to a reader jumping a line - but some sites condense into an overly narrow column - leading to unnecessary scrolling.

"Infinite Scroll" is the extreme of this spectrum. With the lack of certainty about page length (i.e. the scroll indicator jumping just as one thinks the end is near), it is hard to understand how anyone can find such a site user-friendly - but hey-ho !

  • While this is fine as a personal opinion, it doesn't adhere to most research out there. Most research shows that users are perfectly happy with scrolling. – DA01 Sep 7 '15 at 17:08

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