The Fold Does Exist


origamiAbove the fold, most web designers out there absolutely hate that term. If you don’t know what it means, where the hell have you been? It’s a term mostly used by clients when they want more eyes on a certain piece of information and want it repositioned further up the page where a user doesn’t have to scroll to see it.

The general feeling on this one from the world’s web designers is that the fold doesn’t exist and to a degree they’re right. Obviously computer screens and monitors don’t fold, the terminology has been adopted from the graphic design world where newspapers were folded for display purposes – hence the important information being displayed above the fold.

Another reason why the fold is considered not to exist in web design is the various different screen resolutions that monitors can display information at, because of this there is no one cut off point after which users have to scroll, it varies from screen to screen.

So while the actual fold doesn’t exist, the concept of the fold does and it has an important place in web design. Not every user that visits your site is going to scroll, that’s a fact, so in general it makes sense to place your most important information at the top of the page where it will be seen by the most eyes. Take a look around a few sites, where is the navigation placed? where is the shopping basket? the logo? All important pieces of information and all at the top of the page.

Obviously you can’t have all your information at the top of the page, you need to prioritise the information that appears on your site and arrange it accordingly, but make no mistake the top of the page remains the most important area on a website.

Comments


teabag:

23 Feb 2010 08:38:15

lots of references to http://37signals.com/ in discussions about this topic and how they have key points and call to actions below the fold. Also mentioned in this article which is laid out in an interesting way to communicate the point here http://iampaddy.com/lifebelow600/

Dave:

23 Feb 2010 09:32:09

@Liam

I’ve read a number of articles about the fold and it seems that the web design community is firmly in the doesn’t exist camp, my argument is that it isn’t a case of all or nothing. It’s a matter of prioritising information and I would say that is exactly what 37signals are doing. All the high priority information is near the top.

It’s a fact that some users will land on a web page and will choose not to scroll down and that could be for any number of reasons (they may not be interested in the site, may not see anything that tempts them to scroll) – it’s a numbers game, the higher up the page, the more eyes will see it

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