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Introduction to Website Scrollmaps

Introduction to Website Scrollmaps 5027-daily-golden-nugget-733I'm always measuring results. When I find something that works I usually want to figure out a new type of testing to make it even better. I also don't like to stick to the same website idea for too long because I always fear that something will drastically change online and all my customers will be left behind. So I use several different measuring techniques to track how people scroll and click around the websites created by my company.

One of my most fascinating measuring tools provides user monitoring so I can see how people scroll and where they click, even if they are not clicking on a link. Have you ever used your mouse to help you keep your place while you are reading a website? When I'm reading long blocks of test I often highlight what I'm reading, like using a bookmark to help you read a (physical) book. So that measuring tool of mine would actually show where I clicked to highlight text on the web page.

This type of measuring is pretty powerful when it comes time to rethink your website and create a new design. Understanding how your audience uses your website will help you design a better website. There are several companies out there that provide monitoring software so you can secretly watch how people are interacting with your website.

One of the common design factors when building a website is the size of the screen people will be using when visiting your site. I'm not necessarily talking about desktop size vs. mobile screen sizes, but just screen sizes in general. Taller screen sizes require less scrolling. Taller screen sizes include big desktop screens, but also large mobile devices. Shorter desktop screens, like most laptops now, require more scrolling.

When designing a new website you need to understand what people will see first when they arrive, and how they will scroll on your site.

The expression "below the fold" originally referred to how a newspaper would appear when the tabloid was folded in half while sitting at the new stand. Passer-bys would see the main newspaper headline and anything else that appeared physically above the tabloid fold. This expression was adopted by the internet to now mean the bottom edge of your website that appears in a web browser.

The problem with understanding the "fold" on a website is that it's different for every computer screen; but when you use a measuring tool you can see the percent of people who scroll and which areas of your pages are seen 100% of the time by all visitors.

I've mentioned heatmap technology before as a way to measure and better design your website. Tracking how someone scrolls around your website is called a "scrollmap." There are services that can simulate heatmapping, but scrollmapping requires real website tracking over a period of time.

The results from a scrollmap appear as a rainbow of colors showing the percentage of people who see certain areas of your site, i.e. how far up or down they scrolled.

You would think that all website visitors would see the top edge of your website, but strangely enough my tracking shows that that the top edge of a website is only seen by about 62% of all website visitors. They typical footer of a retail jeweler's website is only seen by 30% or fewer visitors.

As a non scientific measurement (taken from a desktop computer), I can say that all website visitors will see the area about 4 inches from the top of your website to about 7 inches. Remember that I'm measuring jewelry websites almost exclusively, but I have seen these same results on non-jewelry websites too.

So if you're thinking about redesigning your website some time soon, ask your web designer if they can help you with scrollmapping before you start the new design process. I will warn you though, most user tracking like this is at a premium price, but the money you spend will pay off because users will engage your website longer.

AT: 05/15/2013 04:57:33 PM   LINK TO THIS GOLD NUGGET
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