April 12th, 2007
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to watch a user try to gather some fitness information from the Men’s Health magazine site. They went to the home page, clicked on the Fitness link in the navigation bar.
When the page loaded, this is what they saw:
“That’s not very much information,” the user exclaimed. “I don’t think these guys are serious about fitness stuff.” Then the user left the site.
While the user’s window was pretty big (782×614 pixels), the information presented made it look like only 4 articles and 1 video was available.
In fact, There was quite a bit more. Had the user opened their browser to the full height of the screen, they would’ve seen this:
And there was another screenful below that.
But the user didn’t open their browser full. Nor did they attempt to scroll, even though the scroll bars clearly show there’s more both vertically and horizontally.
This is a classic example of a scroll stopper. Scroll stoppers are design elements that prevent users from scrolling because they inadvertently give the impression there’s nothing else on the page.
In this case, the large unused space located under the list of articles and the lower border of the video conspired to make our user think they were seeing all there was to see. Users are very sensitive to visual cues like this.
Observing users reacting to scroll stoppers can give designers the mistaken belief that users don’t like to scroll. However, all the evidence we’ve collected suggests that’s not true at all. They love to scroll, assuming the page makes it clear there’s something to scroll to.Tweet