So what’s all this talk about ‘the fold’?
‘The fold’ in the context of web design refers simply to the space at the top of a web page that a user can see before they have to scroll.
There’s been a lot of debate and controversy about ‘the fold’ in web design over the last two decades. Here’s my own thoughts on why we should put less emphasis on the fold in web design and focus more on flow of content.
Where does ‘the fold’ come from?
The origin of ‘the fold’ refers back to the front page of a printed newspaper. Most papers are folded in half so only the top half of the front page is visible to customers on a shop shelf.
The idea is that the most enticing content should appear ‘above the fold’ in order to grab people’s attention so that they buy the newspaper.
Does ‘the fold’ translate to web design?
It’s easy to understand how the principles of print design helped to form some of the basic rules in the early years of web design because the internet was such a revolutionary new concept to the world.
So it made sense that the fold would be adopted as just one rule to help designers formulate their first few successful web designs. Especially if you consider that our audience at the time was new to the web and that scrolling wasn’t a familiar concept yet.
Browsing behaviours are constantly evolving
But we all know that in the last 20 years browsing behaviour has changed dramatically. People use a mix of devices from mobiles to tablets, phablets, laptops, computers and even TVs to browse the web now.
We’re also constantly being introduced to new wearable technologies such as Google Glasses or Smartwatches which completely change again how we interact with the internet and communicate with the world.
Now with home appliances becoming smarter and more integrated with our day-to-day lives who knows how our browsing habits will continue to evolve in the years to come.
Web users today are accustomed to crossing from one platform to the next in the blink of an eye and expect their experience to be seamless, uninterrupted and flow with ease.
The fold doesn’t exist anymore
In my professional life I embrace limitations and constraints. I welcome challenges because that’s what my job is all about, problem solving for both the client and the user. But I’m sorry to say, in web design ‘the fold’ no longer exists.
It’s an antiquated term that can’t be clearly defined because I’m not designing one experience for one user on one device. My aim is to create an immersive brand experience across multiple touch points that is both easy and delightful for people to use.
Rethinking the fold for the future
So let’s change the conversation and move the emphasis onto creating engaging experiences through quality content and a well thought out layout with clear hierarchy.
Your content should be broken up in such a way as to grab the user’s attention, draw them in and engage them to delve further.
So I invite you to take your users on a journey of discovery and forget you ever heard the term ‘above the fold’.
Originally published at blog.strata3.com.