Danone : Scroll down for confusion

A home page’s complicated scrolling mechanism will frustrate first-time visitors.

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The feature

The home page of Danone, the France-based food company, greets visitors with a vertically split screen with two large images on either side. On the left side of the divide are the words, ‘For all’, a down arrow, and ‘Scroll down to discover’; on the right side are ‘For you’, an up arrow, and ‘Scroll up to discover’.

Scrolling up, with exactly one ‘swipe’ of the mouse on a desktop (or finger on a tablet) leads to landing pages grouped under ‘For you’ (candidates, journalists and investors). Scrolling down leads to landing pages under the banner ‘For all’ – information on mission & strategy, management, research & innovation, business lines and company history. These landing pages can also be reached via a top navigation bar above the image panels. The swiping navigation mechanism on the English and French versions of the home page are identical.

The takeaway

Learning the unconventional scrolling mechanism takes a few minutes of experimentation and is anything but straightforward. The split screen seems to imply that visitors should ‘scroll up’ on the right side of the screen and ‘scroll down’ on the left, when in reality, scrolling up or down on either side works. The swiping mechanism itself is not conventional either, it takes a few tries to realise that continuous scrolling does not work, you must make exactly one scrolling motion and then wait for the screen to respond and move to the next page. It might be argued that swiping navigation is ideal for a tablet, but the home page requires the same ‘one swipe’ action on a tablet as well, when most conventional tablet navigation allows continuous swiping. The navigation on both desktop and tablet is more like clicking a button on a keyboard.

The confusing scrolling navigation is a shame because the section landing pages themselves (technically part of the home page) are clear, well presented and appealing. If you use the primary navigation bar to switch between these ‘landing pages’, rather than scroll up or down, the home page starts to make a lot more sense.

Danone is counting on visitors having the patience getting to grips with a new navigation system, when the overwhelming evidence is that first-time visitors to corporate websites are ‘task-oriented’ and want to spend as little time as possible on the home page to find the information they need. By having the ‘scroll up/scroll down’ calls to action so prominently positioned, the company risks wasting visitors’ time when in fact there is another, far better mechanism sitting quietly at the top of the screen, in the form of the primary navigation bar.

First published 03 December, 2014
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