What is this fold thingy?



OK, so I’ve had a few comments about content having to be ‘above the fold’ for a few years now and this is totally been grinding my gears.

The fold doesn’t matter

Let's all take a minute and look at the evidence: users won't close the page because they have to scroll. Actually with larger monitors, smart phones and mobile devices scrolling is a given, the ‘fold’ disappears, so this is now kind of a dead problem.

Let's actually look at where the term 'above the fold' came from. It originated from newspapers and print. When a newspaper is folded, the main headline is visible on the top half with an image generally positioned underneath. This increases the chances of the headline being read if the paper has been folded and placed on a table, for instance. With the birth of the internet, people didn’t quite know how the browser worked so adopted the same term used in print. Things have changed and it frustrates me that we still use this term in the wrong context.

Of course, we want to have clear visual aids to show that there is more content on the whole page but as a designer we don’t need to cram as much information as possible into this small area. This can be as small as 640 x 480 in some instances of site analytics and in fact, with the ever-changing devices and screen sizes, we need to adapt according. Users don’t mind scrolling, it’s a natural thing to do now. And we have the ability to engage and delight the audience with animations to make the page even more captivating. Stats have actually proven that call to actions have a better hit rate when lower down the page after alluring copy gives insight into why you should 'click'.

When visualizing the fold, it creates in the mind the idea that content below the fold is overlooked by the visitor, it has a significantly lesser chance of being seen, like it's fallen off a cliff on visibility. This is categorically not true

Various research data can be seen to support a variety of results...

  • Content below the fold can have higher view and click results than content higher on the page
  • Users scroll on pages presented to them
  • A large percentage of web users begin scrolling before a page has even finished loading
  • Content on any part of the page can have a high click rate, user experience keeps the visitor scrolling beyond the fold

Obviously statistics can be interpreted in many ways, user experience is key and will always bring the best results to a business brief, I always use my experience and ‘gut’ to get the best results on a design problem but for me it’s clear people expect allot of engagement and clever design from the websites they are engaging with.

So to sum up…

  • Users don’t mind scrolling
  • Visual and content cues are key
  • Space is your friend
  • Stop using a term that was created for print