Designing for the web can often be a tricky task, there are many variables to take in account, some of them of technological nature, some of them of human nature. The fold is something that involves a little bit of both.
What is the fold?
If you’re not familiar with the idea of the fold on web-design, we could say in a nutshell that it is the area of the site that your users will see without having to scroll, therefore, making that region very valuable. Now, calculating how big that area is, is a slightly more difficult task, it involves screen sizes, resolutions, browser type, operational system, how many toolbars the users have, and so it goes. But we’re not going to go that far this time, the point of this post is to argue that the fold may not be as important as it’s been said.
It is commonly said that users won’t scroll bellow the fold or won’t pay too much attention to the content bellow that line. I would agree that to a certain extant. I can’t deny that for most of the sites that area is the most important. That is the first impression you user will get, so there are some important tasks to accomplish on there such as:
- Informing the user what is the site all about and presenting your brand.
- Giving the user an idea of where he is on the site.
- Showing him where to go now.
Now, that's a lot of things to do in a such a small space. How can you expect to have your the rest of your content on top of that? Well, you don’t have to! What you have to do is make the user conformable and guide his visit. As long as he feels he is accomplishing his objectives he will scroll and explore the site. But, how can we accomplish that?
On design there are no formulas that will work 100% of the time. There are a couple of things that could help you though:
- Images and text that get cut by the fold.
- Avoid visual clues that would indicate the end page such as big white-spaces.
- Have compelling and relevant content.
Now, why should you believe on my words? After all the fold is one of the biggest dogmas of the internet still. Well, there is been a lot of research done regarding this subject! Here is some great articles you can look at:
- Blasting the Myth of the Fold
- Utilizing the Cut-off Look to Encourage Users To Scroll
- Changes in Web Usability Since 1994
- ClickTale Scrolling Research Report V2.0 - Part 1
- Page fold: myth or reality?
The bottom line is, you should take the fold in account while designing your page, but be smart about it! Don’t just believe that any content below it is dead or irrelevant web-design is not an exact science. And, in case of doubt, why not try some user testing?
What do you think bout the fold? How do you deal with it? We’d like to hear from you!