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6:9 Avoid Scroll Stoppers

Relative Importance:

Relative Importance rating of 3 out of 5

Strength of Evidence:

Strength of Evidence rating of 4 out of 5

Document Type: Guideline


Topic:

Page Structure - General


Guideline:

Ensure that the location of headings and other page elements does not create the illusion that users have reached the top or bottom of a page when they have not.


Comments:

In one study, three headings were positioned in the center of a page below a section of introductory text - the headings were located about one inch below the navigation tabs. When users scrolled up the page from the bottom and encountered these headings, they tended to stop, thinking the headings indicated the top of the page.

Similarly, users have been found to not scroll to the true bottom of a page to find a link because they encountered a block of text in a very small font size. This small type led users to believe that they were at the true bottom of the page. Other elements that may stop users' scrolling include horizontal lines, inappropriate placement of 'widgets', and cessation of background color.


Sources:

  • Bailey, R.W., Koyani, S., & Nall, J. (2000, September 7). Usability testing of several health information Web sites, National Cancer Institute Technical Report. Bethesda, MD.
  • Ivory, M.Y., Sinha, R.R., & Hearst, M.A. (2000, June). Preliminary findings on quantitative measures for distinguishing highly rated information-centric web pages. Proceedings of the 6th Conference on Human Factors and the Web. Retrieved November 2005, from http://www.tri.sbc.com/hfweb/ivory/paper.html.
  • Marshall, S., Drapeau, T., & DiSciullo, M. (2001, June). Case study: Eye tracking the AT&T customer service site. Proceedings of the IBM Make it Easy Conference.
  • Nygren, E. & Allard, A. (1996). Between the clicks: Skilled users scanning of pages. Proceedings of the 2nd Conference on Human Factors and the Web. Retrieved November 2005, from http://www.microsoft.com/usability/webconf/nygren.rtf.
  • Spool, J.M., Klee, M., & Schroeder, W. (2000). Report 3: Designing for scent, Designing Information-Rich Web Sites. Bradford, MA: User Interface Engineering.
  • Spool, J.M., Scanlon, T., Schroeder, W., Snyder, C., & DeAngelo, T. (1997). Web Site Usability: A Designer’s Guide. North Andover, MA: User Interface Engineering.

Poor Example:

When scrolling up the page, the design of this header (bold, shadowed, and bordered by bars) might suggest that the user has reached the top of the page, when a quick look at the scroll bar will indicate that much of the page exists above this section.

06_09_bad_example

The design and location of this block of graphics might suggest to a new user that this is the bottom of the page, when the scroll bar indicates that it is not.

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