Both the eye tracking and click analysis reports recommend ensuring critical information is presented at the top, employing scannable layouts and utilising the foot of the page.
Eye tracking research findings
Jakob Nielsen recently summarised an eye tracking study he conducted with 21 users accessing 541 different web pages. He summarises:
Web users spend 80% of their time looking at information above the page fold. Although users do scroll, they allocate only 20% of their attention below the fold.
The implications are clear: the material that's the most important for the users' goals or your business goals should be above the fold. Users do look below the fold, but not nearly as much as they look above the fold.
People will look very far down a page if (a) the layout encourages scanning, and (b) the initially viewable information makes them believe that it will be worth their time to scroll.
Finally, while placing the most important stuff on top, don't forget to put a nice morsel at the very bottom.
Scrolling and Attention - Eyetracking research summary by Jakob Nielsen
Click analysis research findings
Click Tale are a click analysis company and published their analysis of 80,000 randomly selected page views in 2007.
- 76% of pages with scroll bars were scrolled to some extent. 22% of these were scrolled all the way to the bottom.
- Page areas near the top of the page get about 17 times more exposure than the areas near the page bottom.
- Page exposure patterns are remarkably similar across different page lengths.
- Page exposure exhibits a small flat rise near the page bottom.
Scrolling research report part 1: Visibility and Scroll Reach - ClickTale.com
Scrolling research report part 2: Visitor attention and web page exposure - ClickTale.com