Creating a website which captures peoples attention is perhaps more involved than you think. The actual content itself is obviously important, but so too is the way its displayed. Seemingly small differences in page layout and appearance can significantly impact engagement, particularly with call to action areas.
Discussing the nuances and subtleties of web design would likely be too much for any single post, so today the focus will be on just one; page length.
The trend in web design at the moment is a drift towards full width pages of the kind used by global brands such as Android and Apple; and admittedly with the right high resolution images and a visually impactful product such websites can work very well. However width is only a single dimension of the page, what about the length?
Single fold mentality
Traditionally web designers have sought to keep pages as short as possible, with the most important information confined to the first ‘scroll’, or fold to use the technical term; the logic being that consumers don’t like to have to scroll to search for information.
This is certainly a valid option depending on your website, the content you have available and the type of business you run. For example, small business pages won’t have paragraph upon paragraph of content to display so will probably want the main selling information as high up the page as possible. After all what’s the alternative? Start with the least relevant information and work down? Clearly this doesn’t make much sense.
Multiple folds can work
Some websites, ecommerce stores, for example, will naturally have a large amount of information to display and will invariably need to use more than a single fold or resort to using several pages to address a particular topic, however this can create a complex navigation structure which harms overall user friendliness. The good news is that studies suggest that most people will look past the first fold and search for relevant information within the entirety of a page.
However content needs to be displayed in a logical and intuitive manner to better enable potential customers to find what they’re looking for. For example, ecommerce websites may group products on the basis of their relatedness, home and garden, for example, and then list them alphabetically.
If your website is purely informational, i.e. there are no products or services to rely on for organisation purposes, then its important that your content follows a logical and intuitive progression throughout the page. For example, basic and introductory information is best presented at the top of the page and more advanced topics sequentially thereafter. People who are unfamiliar with the content will be able to start from the top and work their way down, building up knowledge as they do so; and more experienced individuals will be able to jump in where they feel comfortable using the headings and sub headings to guide them to the most relevant points.
Note: This is something we’ve had to do with our site; as web hosts and designers we have a lot of information that we need to convey to customers relating to the products we have on offer, how the service works and the support and aftercare which is available; certainly enough for several multiple fold pages.
Avoid page breaks
When creating multiple fold pages its important to avoid design elements which may infer to users that they’ve reached the end of the page as you can’t always rely on people to keep scrolling until they reach the footer. Typically the culprits are large areas of empty space, full page width horizontal lines or a series of links. This definitely falls into the optimisation rather than fundamental category, however if it avoids a few people clicking off prematurely then its worth looking at.
Ultimately, the issue of page length is not really an issue at all provided related information is grouped together and displayed throughout the page in a logical sequence; and separate pages can then be used to address different topics.