Monday, December 21, 2009

Above the Fold

This is another mostly unimportant article in my series filling the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I’ll return with more valuable topics after the holidays.

There’s a tool in Google Labs right now that may be of interest to bloggers and those of you with family history websites. Browser Size allows website owners and designers to see how much of their websites are visible without scrolling when viewed on older computers. Older computers have “smaller” screens, either smaller in physical size, or having fewer pixels, or both.

The fold is a concept borrowed from the newspaper world and refers to the fold separating the top half of the front page from the bottom. Just as some people never venture further into a newspaper than “above the fold,” so too many website visitors never scroll beyond the visible portion of a web page.

Google Browser Size view of Ancestry.com

The illustration above shows a Browser Size analysis of Ancestry.com. Long time Ancestry.com users remember when “Start your tree” pushed “Search” below the fold. The message boards filled with complaints that Ancestry.com had removed search from the home page from users that didn’t think to scroll down. Google’s Browser Size shows that the Search button is above the fold for just 30% of Internet users (as measured by Google visitors, not Ancestry.com visitors).

Almost 98% of visitors will see the Start Your Tree button without scrolling. Only 50% of visitors will see the newsletter subscription button.

One benefit of registering on Ancestry.com for non-subscribers is homepage customization, which allows adding or moving page elements as desired.

For more information about Browser Size, see “Browser Size: a tool to see how others view your website” on the Official Google Blog.

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