I was asked the other day for a brief POV on “the fold.” I know, cringeworthy.
The concept of content being placed “above the fold” is a carry over from long-established newspaper principles. Traditionally, anything on the front page and above the fold would be seen by a prospective customer. So, in order to sell more papers, newspapers put their top stories on the front page and “above the fold.”
Early Internet Use
Fast forward to the dawn of the masses starting to use Internet. At that time, the only mental model for presenting and consuming information was based on print: newspapers, magazines, brochures. Most monitors were a standard size and resolution, 800×600, and scrolling a page was unfamiliar to approximately 80% of people. It seemed logical at the time to place the most important content above 600 pixels; anything above that line, aka “the fold” would show up without scrolling.
The Internet is Everywhere
Today we have more resolution and screen sizes than we can count, much less target effectively. The fold exists differently on every device, monitor, setting, essentially nullifying the concept. It is more effective to disregard the fold and focus on clearly stating the value prop of the product or service. Compelling content drives attention. People scroll and read (or scan) based on interest, not based on pixels or placement. One user may skip over your top story because it’s not interesting to them, not because they didn’t see it. There is an ever-growing need to make words and pictures consumable across an ever-widening sea of options.
Users know how to scroll. So long as the site brings the user closer to their goals, their tasks, satisfices their needs, they will scroll and click. Know thy user, but also know how they’re viewing and interacting with your site and on what type of device(s).
Cramming tons of stuff above the fold may potentially inhibit users from being able to complete their tasks and goals, and create the perception that the brand doesn’t know it’s customers, nor care about them by making them work harder and spend more time to find what they need.
Did somebody say: Above the fold, Erin Lentz, August 23, 2013
Adapt or Die, and the Fold is Dead, Tracey Halvorsen, April 20, 2012
Above and Below the Fold: Stop Talking about the Stinkin Fold, Chris Lema, January 14, 2013