Well, this should get the opinions flying. Should your website scroll? Working as a website designer, I am well aware of how often this argument crops up. You can probably split internet users 50/50 as to the answer, which may well tell you all you need to know.
Ask a designer if a website should include scrolling and most will answer ‘Yes’. We argue that scrolling on a website is as natural as turning a page in a book, that as long as the content is interesting, people will explore further. This places the onus on us as designers to create a website that makes people want to explore further down the page.
However, there is a large section of people that argue, no – A well designed website should not have the need for the user to tire out their fingers by swooping downwards in an ever descending journey to find out what they were looking for.
Perhaps the answer lies somewhere in between. As the current attention span of the average internet user gets smaller and smaller, should we embrace a guideline that states your homepage should not cause you to scroll, yet the inner pages, once you have discovered what you were looking for, can indeed pour ever downwards?
A prime example of this theory is the Apple website. If ever there was a website that worked to this formula, then this would be the one I would offer to all people. Land on the homepage and you can readily access pretty much everything you are looking for from a clear, easily navigated website. Once inside though, each page varies in its length massively. Some involve scrolling for what seems like eternity, but cleverley each section feels like a separate website in its own right. A large image, with short, informative text that hints at further delights te deeper you go.
In my experience if the content is interesting enough, people will explore. Take this websites homepage as an example. I have access to all the analytics in where people click, and I can vouch that links at the bottom of the page do get clicked on. I will admit that these are not in the same proportion as links at the top of the page, but the differences are not as massive as you may think.
With this in mind, the design focuses on the 3 main categories that people are looking for when they visit my site. Website design, print design and Logo Design. They are the 3 big subjects that potential clients are looking for, so there they sit, proudly, at the top of the page. These take the biggest clickthroughs, but as you come down the page there are more specialised links. Illustration? E-Marketing? Property Brochure Design? Oh yes, they all get good clickthroughs too. You can argue that if people do not see these initial links at the top, but the website ranked for the relevant search terms, that people are going to look deeper to find what they came for. You could argue that the headline, strapline and image are so interesting that people are drawn to have a little look on that page. Whatever the reason, they do look.
I would argue that if your website shows the product or service that they are looking for people in a well designed format, exploring below the fold will not be an issue. Keeping it clean, giving the design room to breathe and engaging the viewer all collude to success.
The answer I feel lies in content. Good content, valuable content, interesting content. Have any of these, preferably all, and your website will be a success. Motivating the visitor to come in and have a look around is, in my opinion, what good website design is all about.