Death of the fold

5 minutes

What is the fold?

The fold finds it's origin in the newspaper business. In every stand or shop, the newspaper finds itself in folded-up condition, showing only the top half to potential buyers. Newspaper editors quickly realised they needed to put the important or interesting stuff above the fold to attract buyers.

This concept found it's way to webdesign. Although a website doesn't fold, the area it refers to is above the scroll, or what you see without scrolling.

This false idea makes designers and clients alike cram the top of their site with images, headlines, content and ads. Even if the fold ever existed in webdesign, it couldn't be any more dead now than ever, and here's why:

  1. Different resolution and screen sizes
  2. Responsive design
  3. Everybody scrolls!

"The term “above the fold” has, in my opinion, become outdated, much like the original medium it spawned from" -Patrick Yang

Different resolutions

Back in the day, there were two screen resolutions mainly used: 800x600 and 1024x786. Finding out where the 'above the scroll' area would be, was relatively simple. Time's have changed though.

As you can see, a minor change in screen size and resolution might give you the feeling that the important message below the header-image will get lost.. Oh No! However, with the immense amount of varieties in screens these days, there is no way of knowing where the 'fold' will ever be, thus making planning for it obsolete.

Responsive design

Responsive design allows us to restructure elements when viewed on different screen sizes. A six column grid on desktop might turn into a 2 column grid on phone devices, thus taking up more vertical space.

Everybody scrolls!

It's astounding how many clients have come to me worryingly about which elements aren't falling 'above the fold' according to them. As if the majority of internet users don't realise there might be more content to see if they scroll down? Like we'd actually need arrows and visual clues to convince us there might be more to read further down? In fact, the majority of mobile users prefer scrolling over clicking links and having to go back and forth. Since that would cost them more effort, data, and load time.

If you observe a phone or tablet user on a website, you'll often see them scrolling up and down to make sure they can't find what they're looking for, before clicking on a link -> committing to loading a new page.

Call to action below the scroll

Now consider this: research has shown that people tend to scroll even before the top of the page finished loading, and conversion increased when putting call to action buttons further down the page.

You decide what people notice

Using colours, text sizes, images and micro animations, you decide where the visitors attention will be drawn to. Most people simply scan your content to find what they're looking for, and they won't mind scrolling at all. Just make sure they'll notice your Call To Action's so you can guide them towards your goal!

Prioritise important content

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