In part 1 of our ClickTale Scrolling Report, we learned that visitors scroll in a relative way – relative position inside the page, not based on absolute position in terms of pixels. In other words, the same number of page viewers will tend to scroll halfway or three-quarters through a page, regardless of whether the page size is 5,000 pixels or 10,000 pixels. In part 2, we reveal more new findings: Read on to learn about the way visitors pay attention to content on your site and what areas on your site receive the most attention.
See the end of this posting for ideas on how to make all this info work for you.
Are Your Visitors Paying Attention?
Have you ever wondered how much attention your visitors pay to your website content? We all have, of course. But until recently, most of the evidence has been based on personal observation or random investigations rather than systematic scientific evaluation. To answer this question objectively, we have analyzed over 80,000 web page browsing sessions collected over a one month period.
We started by looking at what we’ve called Visitor Attention, defined as the average time that a visitor pays attention to a specific area on a web page while scrolling up and down.1 We only include periods of actual visitor activity: when they move the mouse, scroll, click or type – and not periods of inactivity when the visitor is busy browsing other websites or grabbing a cup of coffee. The graph below shows us how much time visitors paid attention to each section of different-sized web pages as they scrolled through them. ‘Absolute Scrolling Reach’ measures the distance from the page top (in pixels) that a visitor scrolls down the page.
By studying Visitor Attention patterns we learn that:
- Visitors’ Attention follows a similar pattern for pages of different heights. It peaks both near the page top, at 540 pixels, and near the bottom, about 500 pixels from the end of the page.
- Excluding behavior effects at the page top and bottom, attention decreases exponentially as visitors scroll down the page.
- The peak near the top may be explained by the fact that the area near the page top typically contains the logo and is the first to be scrolled out of view.
- The bottom peak may be explained by visitors’ increased attention while making a decision about their next browsing move. Users may be pausing to make a decision from the typical plethora of links near the page bottom, (for example, someone searching for a ‘contact us’ button or the telephone number of the company) or by the fact that users simply stop their downward scroll when they hit the page end.
- The graph illustrates that Visitor Attention is directly related to the absolute page length in pixels, not to the relative position inside the page.
How Much Exposure Does Your Page Get?
To answer this question, we define Page Exposure as the average time that a specific page area was “exposed” to all visitors2 (as opposed to the subset of visitors that looked at the specific page area). Again we only count periods of visitor activity. The graph below illustrates the average time period that a specifc page area is visible on the screen (”exposed”).
From this graph we learn that:
- Page areas near the top of the page get about 17 times more exposure than the areas near the page bottom.
- In fact, Page Exposure peaks at 24 seconds near the 540 pixel-line and dips to 1.4 seconds near the bottom.
- Page Exposure patterns are remarkably similar across different page lengths.
- They appear to decline in the form of a Power function (y=a*x^b , -1<b<0).
- Page Exposure exhibits a small flat rise near the page bottom.
- This is surprising because the the first graph shows that Visitor Attention near the bottom is much more significant.
- Since Page Exposure of a specific page area is calculated based on the total number of page visits, the “flattened bump” in the second graph means that the high levels of attention are only experienced by a few visitors and are averaged down across all visitors.
- This hypothesis is confirmed by the results from Part 1 of the ClickTale Scrolling Report. Below we reproduce the graph that shows that, regardless of page height, only 15% to 20% of page visitors reach the page bottom. (We measured visitor scrolling using a new metric called ‘Visibility’ which is defined as the fraction of page views that scroll to a specific location in the page.)
Some Important Observations
- Below 540 pixels, both visitor attention and page exposure decline exponentially.
- Possible reasons for this effect have been proposed by Jakob Nielsen in “Why Web Users Scan Instead of Read“.
- Below the 1,000 pixel-line, the number of visitors declines in a linear fashion vs. their relative page location.
- See part 1 where we showed that Visibility = 57.6 – (0.409 x Scrolling Reach) with an R-squared = 89.4% which indicates that the linear model is a very good fit for the scrolling data.
Our Recommendations (i.e. what does this all mean to me?)
- The most valuable web page real-estate is located near the page top, between 0 and 800 pixels. Visitor Attention and Page Exposure peak at about the 540 pixel-line.
- If you have a long web page, add “stop points” such as headers and images to prevent your visitors from quickly scrolling down the page. It will prevent their attention from waning towards the end of the page.
- The footer of your page is important! Users do pay quite a bit of attention to that area of your page.
- See how your specific pages behave with ClickTale Scrolling Heatmaps.
The graphs above were generated by averaging many different web pages and, hence, show “an average model” of a typical web page. Keep in mind, however, that each individual web page has its own reach and attention characteristics that depend on the type of content, the presence of images or headers and the type of visitors to the site.
To understand Visitor Reach and Attention of your own web pages, we invite you to sign up for ClickTale and try our Scrolling Heatmaps for yourself.
- Visitor Attention is calculated by dividing the total time visitors spend looking at a specific page area by the number of visitors that viewed that area.
- Page Exposure is calculated by dividing the total time visitors spend looking at a specific page area by the total number of visitors that have viewed the page.