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I am interested if anyone has read or knows of user research studies around mobile user scrolling habits?

I am hearing some others in my organization stating that "mobile users have a tendency to scroll very quickly down the page". When I say quickly, the demonstrations I've seen would leave the user enough time to quickly glance at images but probably not read any text. Literally scroll, scroll, and scroll.

I would just like to see of any studies out there, and I am aware that the best study would be our own usability analytics or capturing a user with something like clicktale.

The page in question we are discussing is a list of articles on a homepage. Each article includes a background featured image with the article title overlay. The layout is basically a tiled grid of articles.

The assumption is that a user will scroll quickly all the way down the page before reading the text and (presumably) making a decision about an article he or she would like to read.

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    Not to answer your question, but isn't that the gist of trying the cater to a mobile audience?: they are likely using your site while on the go and are pressed for time. In the end I think it would matter on what kind of content is being served. Long form essays have a different reading profile as compared to lists or stuff like reddit. While on my phone, for example, I tend to scroll quickly while researching - scanning for relevant headlines and keywords - If it is something worth reading, but doesn't answer my question, I'll 'share' the page to Pocket for reading later. – Ape-inago Sep 5 '14 at 19:16
  • What are you hoping the research will tell you specifically? I'm not entirely clear on what you hope to learn from research on this. It's fairly well established that people a) scan rather than read and b) scroll. This is true on the desktop as well. – DA01 Jan 2 '15 at 14:53
  • I am hoping the research will give some research data on user scrolling behavior on mobile/tablet devices. @DA01 When you say "It's fairly well established" can you point to any research, studies, etc? – Paul Redmond Jan 3 '15 at 5:38
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    Here's a start: uxmyths.com/post/654047943/myth-people-dont-scroll – DA01 Jan 3 '15 at 12:17
  • I know this is a challenging question, but I am impressed with the article you shared @DA01 and how many research references are included in the article. – Paul Redmond Jan 5 '15 at 3:08
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This article states that almost all users scroll down even before the page loads completely. Luke Wroblewski being the ambassador for Mobile First, I think it's a good start in this direction.

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This is a matter of opinion from the user of a site. Have you thought about doing a focus group or a usability testing session with a few users? You could just ask users to look at the page and then watch their habits as they view articles.

If the article title is big enough to glance at without having to stop scrolling, then users will probably keep scrolling until they reach the bottom, then if they want to stay on the site, they will scroll back up and pick an article that caught their interest. From personal experience, on a few apps on my iPhone, I usually scroll through fairly quickly, but then if an article title/image catches my eye, I will stop and read (news apps are what I have experience with like CNN, Fox, ABC, etc).

I will say this: the image is more likely to catch the users eye than the title. If the image as a background cause the title to be hard to read, a user may get frustrated and leave the site without viewing any articles.

  • Qualitative research (e.g. focus groups, usability testing) doesn't seem appropriate for this kind of problem, as it can't easily be done on the large amounts of people needed to get a statistically significant result. Quantitative research (analytics, in this case) seems more appropriate (though it would still vary based on a site's audience). – Tin Man Jul 24 '16 at 15:28
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The popular trend of one-page web design using the scroll to you die approach is annoying for some users, yet easier to navigate for others. People tend to go faster when there are more images than text. Also, keep a minimalist approach when making sites like the one mentioned above, too much content in too little space is never good. People also tend to scroll a lot while reading through comments. Make sure your website is responsive, as people tend to run into scrolling issues when a website is not responsive. To keep a user scrolling, keep them engaged with a good UI/UX.

  • Welcome to the site, @Sarah O'Connor. Do you have any evidence to support your assertions (such as that people scroll faster through images and through comments)? The OP specifically asks for "conclusive research." – Graham Herrli Jan 2 '15 at 4:19
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Sorry, no research. IMO it's not possible because the scope is too generic.

"mobile users have a tendency to scroll very quickly down the page"

Which users and what pages?
I see some mobile users reading carefully an email, possibly in a Blackberry, while others gloss swiftly over a roster of Facebook comments.

IMO "it depends" (sorry), in this case on the user and on the content too.
Even more "IMO", that mobile users are in the rush sounds like a cliche to me. I observe mobile users in the subway and they are not rushing (the train is). It's an up to 45 minutes trip and during that time span some users are not showing any scroll frenzy.
This might be the most common and the best environment for mobile sessions.

Over time we will acquire more detailed knowledge and instead of "the users" we'll start saying "site X's users".

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