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Data: Chartbeat; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

New data from Chartbeat provided to Axios finds that working from home has pushed people to scroll deeper through article pages on desktop, and slightly less through articles on mobile.

Why it matters: The change, which coincides with the start of the pandemic, could suggest that users prefer to engage more with article pages when they have the opportunity to read them on a bigger screen.

Several factors could be influencing the trend, says Bonnie Ray, head of data science at Chartbeat, an analytics company.

  1. Desktop usage has spiked overall as people spend more time at home. Pre-pandemic article reading habits on mobile may have shifted to desktop.
  2. Articles are encountered differently on desktop versus mobile. Ray found the portion of article views from search with no scrolling has gone down significantly over time, but hasn't changed on social. A higher percentage of search traffic versus social occurs on desktop, so "it could be that articles we seek out via search are more relevant to us versus ones served up to us on social," Ray says.
  3. Window heights: Desktop scrolling may have increased more relative to mobile because window heights on desktop have changed very little over the past year, hovering at ~780 pixels, while window heights on mobile have increased from ~580 to 650 pixels.

Between the lines: The trend mostly holds true for all but the smallest of websites.

  • A page view with no scrolling means that the viewer never scrolled "below the fold" on a website, or below the typical height of a desktop browser — about 780 pixels.
  • Scroll depth has stayed the same for landing pages on desktop, but has decreased over time for landing pages on mobile.
  • In North America, the percentage of people who do not scroll "below the fold," on article pages has decreased significantly during the pandemic from 34% to 25% across both mobile and desktop.

Scrolling behavior mirrors overall desktop and mobile trends over time, with new visitors tending to scroll slightly deeper than returning or loyal visitors.   

The bottom line: On social media, users often jokingly complain about spending more time "doomscrolling," or absorbing dystopian news while scrolling through their phones.

  • The Chartbeat analysis suggests that while we like to joke about "doomscrolling," we are in fact scrolling deeper through articles, at least on desktop, than we were before.

Methodology: The data from a sample of 300 global sites of all sizes that opt-in to allow Chartbeat to aggregate and anonymize their data for research purposes.

Go deeper

Updated 43 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas convicted of campaign finance crimes

Lev Parnas, a former associate of then-President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida businessman Lev Parnas was convicted Friday on charges of conspiracy to make foreign contributions to political campaigns, according to multiple outlets.

Why it matters: Prosecutors said Parnas, then an associate of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, funneled over $150,000 from a Russian businessman into U.S. campaigns as part of an effort to land licenses in the U.S.'s legal cannabis industry.

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Texas abortion law

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime.

Why it matters: The court is moving extraordinarily fast on the Texas cases, compressing into just a few days a process that normally takes months. And that schedule means the court will take up Texas' ban a month before it hears another major abortion case — a challenge to Mississippi's own 2018 ban on abortions after 15 weeks.

Officials warn 5 key tech sectors will determine whether China overtakes U.S.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

U.S. intelligence officials responsible for protecting advanced technologies have narrowed their focus to five key sectors: artificial intelligence, quantum computing, biotechnology, semiconductors and autonomous systems.

Why it matters: China and Russia are employing a variety of legal and illegal methods to undermine and overtake U.S. dominance in these critical industries, officials warned in a new paper. Their success will determine "whether America remains the world’s leading superpower or is eclipsed by strategic competitors."