New scrolling technique could make your website content more memorable
Scrolling through digital content is something most of us do every day.
Whether it’s swiping our fingers down our smartphones and tablets or working a mouse wheel, scrolling is a key part of how we interact with websites and mobile apps and how we find and consume information.
For website owners, the scrolling habits of users are becoming an increasingly important consideration. How users navigate around a page will have a significant impact on the effectiveness of your content. It could be the difference between it driving a useful action and not being noticed at all.
Facebook, the world’s largest social network, knows a thing or two about scrolling. Its core feature, the News Feed, provides a constantly-updated stream of information from the people and pages its 1.04 billion users follow.
Understanding how those users interact with the News Feed is an essential part of how Facebook pitches its various advertising products.
By helping brands create content that’s more in tune with how users navigate around Facebook’s website or smartphone and tablet apps the company continues to drive up its ad revenues.
Facebook’s own research revealed that the consuming of content is getting quicker, particularly on mobile devices. But crucially users can still recall content even if they’ve only seen it for a quarter of a second.
The company also said that with video, content creators had just 3 seconds to capture the attention of users. When it comes to creating content that gets seen and gets remembered, it would seem speed is everything.
Changing the way your users scroll
A recent study by researchers at Aalto University in Finland suggested that getting users to change how they scroll through content could really help website owners to get their message across.
“In conventional scrolling a number of objects are moving in the viewer window, which is problematic for visual attention,” the researchers said. “First, motion blur makes it impossible to focus on an object. Second, the user is not able to direct attention for long enough to comprehend the content before it scrolls out of the window.”
The new technique developed as part of the research study tags key pieces of content on a web page. These could be blocks of text, graphics or other useful anchor points. It then adjusts the scroll to highlight these elements, seeking to mimic the way the human brain retains information.
The researchers found that their technique allowed users to not only skim through more pages of content but also retain more of what they had seen.
While still in the prototype phase, the study has great potential for website owners wanting to flag particular pieces of content to their users.
How basic formatting boosts search and conversion
This study is also a useful reminder of the benefits of breaking up blocks of text on your website or blog.
By using embedded photos, graphics and video or even simple formatting such as pull quotes and sub-headings, you can make your landing pages or blog articles much more engaging for users, which can in turn lead to more conversions.
Eye tracking surveys consistently show that the attention of users is drawn to anything on the page that isn’t just plain text. As a result, a web page that features richer, visual elements is more likely to retain the attention of users and will also perform better in search as Google continues to prioritise quality signals.