Goodbye to “the fold”

Ahh, “The fold”.

That mythical line that we all get so worried about. Originating from Newspaper-speak, “the fold” refers to the fact that the paper was folded in half for delivery, or display in a shop.

It was therefore crucial for the key content, and your advertising, to be above that fold. Because that’s what people would see.

Online, “the fold” refers to anything above the bottom of your browser when you first visit a web page.

There’s a strong belief that in web-design, “the fold” matters. You should do your darndest to squeeze as much as you possibly can above “the fold”, to ensure that your users won’t miss a thing.

Truth is, “the fold” doesn’t exist. Differences between user’ screen sizes, web browsers, and browser toolbars installed, etc, etc, etc – mean that your fold and my fold can be very different.

Even if “the fold” did exist, it’s irrelevant. People are getting used to the web (it’s been around for over 10 years now). We understand that a web page can be longer than the screen. And we’re also getting used to longer pages – Recent rises in blog content, and greater online readership of news articles , means that we all know how to scroll down if we need to.

Besides, how difficult is scrolling anyway? Desktop or Laptop, Mouse or Click-pad, it ain’t that hard.

In summary … don’t ignore the fold, but don’t restrict yourself because of it. Yes – It’s important to have some of the good stuff at the top of your page. But don’t try and cram everything in the first 400 pixels of your page. Your content is going to be too squashy, harder to take in, and ultimately your visitors will leave, unsatisfied.

Focus on using the top of the web page to grab the user’s attention, and entice them to scroll down when they visit your site. And remember what Jakob Nielsen once famously said – Users will scroll if they feel that something relevant is there.

(photo credit – zoofythejink)

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