Can you find the scroll bar?

The coworker that sits next to me turned to me the other day and said, “Where’s the scroll bar?”


When I looked over at her screen, it was in fact apparent that scroll bar was not visible. She was uncertain how to scroll down the page without being able to click and hold the scroll bar. When we reduced the width of the page, the scroll bar did appear. To her dismay, it was white with a small outline. Not exactly an easy target. Image

I’ve noticed the absence of the scroll bar when I work exclusively on my laptop (as opposed to connecting to a larger monitor), and find it particularly annoying to navigate any application or website if I don’t have my Magic Mouse with me. I don’t know if it’s a trend or the nature of applications on a newer OS, but in my  (humble UX) opinion, it’s an irritating feature. And for those people like my coworker, it creates confusion and interrupts their ability to accomplish their tasks and goals.

One of the most common myths about website usability is that people don’t scroll. This often leads to the dreaded “fold” debate. Duh, people scroll. It’s natural. We’ve been scrolling for decades. Even more so with tablets and smartphones these days (aka “swiping”). But hiding the scroll bar doesn’t mean that people will know it’s still possible to do so.

Example: How contrast works

I was recently on the Microsoft Support website (I don’t recall the exact URL) and was interrupted by one of their overlays asking if I would be willing to take a survey after using the site. (See the screenshot below).


Now, I’m guessing that was the intent of the overlay based on previous experiences, because I can’t actually read the text at all. In fact, even attempting to makes my head hurt.

The lack of contrast between the text color and the background color, a basic accessibility, usability and readability tenet, is obviously lacking. It makes the attempt to gather potentially useful user input a useless exercise. Even more regrettable is that this is on a Help and Support website, which should be as accessible and usable as possible. Not to mention how poorly it reflects on the Microsoft brand–which is very legible with its two logos–a fair example of admissible contrast.