Merck : The non-scrolling home page

Merck, the US pharmaceuticals company, has a home page that neatly avoids scrolling on a computer screen, while allowing it on a mobile device

click to view

The feature

The home page of is dominated by a carousel of features with images and introductions; their subjects vary, but always include technological stories.

On a desktop or laptop screen, a top menu triggers dropdown panels or links to other parts of the site. A bar across the bottom of the screen - always in view - has three links: Latest News, Social@Merck, and Other Merck sites. Mousing over any of these triggers the same panel, which springs upwards. This has the latest news story and tweet, and a set of links to other company sites.

On a mobile phone, the top menu is replaced by a 'hamburger' menu, while the bottom bar disappears. Instead news stories, the latest tweet and links to other sites are displayed below each other, to be viewed by scrolling.

The takeaway

Most companies assume that users will happily scroll down their home pages, and will pack them full of juicy titbits. But Nielsen Norman's research shows that on laptop or desktop screens clicks drop off sharply 'below the fold', and common sense says that you should not make visitors do any work when you have a few seconds to convince them to stay on your site. A mobile is quite different, scrolling is the natural thing to do.

There are ways of tempting people to scroll on a computer, but Merck's answer is blindingly simple - it makes sure nothing is out of view. If you want to see news, tweets or other sites, click on the bar at the bottom. Otherwise let yourself be tempted in without distraction by the main features, or click links at the top to get where you want.

It could be done better. The images and headline in the features are not strong, and we are sceptical that a carousel is in any event the best way of drawing users into a site. The spring-up panel could be better used too. There should be a separate one for each link, and they could be more enticingly populated.

But the idea of treating laptop and mobile visitors quite differently is good, and respects likely usage. Latest Bowen Craggs figures show that 67 per cent of visits to corporate sites are still on laptop or desktop computers, with 27 per cent on mobiles. The first is dropping, the second rising, but there will have to be much more change before it no longer makes sense to give as much attention to one as to the other.
First published 17 April, 2019
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