Hands on usability
What in the name of god is that title supposed to mean?
Well, I have been evaluating the usability of a couple of websites and I accidentally stumbled upon a very interesting way to tell people that they are wasting precious real estate on the upper section of their websites.
This is probably one of the simplest techniques that I have might have accidentally invented that actually convinces people that their site is a mess. Here's how it goes.
I ask my stakeholder to take their palm and lay it out on the monitor horizontally. Then I ask them to slowly drag their palm down, as if covering the screen from the top. I ask them to keep sliding their hand downwards until they find something of value. Once they find something, I ask them to just take a look at the ratio of vertical distance they covered before seeing anything useful. If they lost half the page without providing any significant value to their customer, they have some usability issues going on there.
Well, the method is not fool proof. You might occasionally see websites with some full bleed images right at the top, but then again those images have a reason to be placed there. However, if all that you have is some warnings and advertisements upto 50 percent of the vertical distance of your page and you pose yourself to be an information centric website, something's gotta change buddy.
This method is just like a quickie and I have found it to be really effective, even in my own designs. If you want to grab someone's attention about something critical on your home page, do it right away. Don't make your users scan half the way down. As simple as that.