You Can’t Fold a Website

ian@designkarma.co.uk

Ian Ebden · October 23, 2013


Looks like this article was written a while ago. Some of the ideas and/or techniques described may now be obselete.

Above the fold is the upper half of the front page of a newspaper where an important news story or photograph is often located. Papers are often displayed to customers folded so that only the top half of the front page is visible.

Makes sense. But this is a newspaper term. And yet somehow this concept was ported over to the digital world, and it continues to linger, driving us web designers crazy.

Fold Scroll Point

The fold simply isn’t a thing on the web. What we’re really talking about is a “scroll point”. In other words, the point at which further action is required to view more content.

In the early days when everyone used a desktop computer to browse the web and there were only a handful of resolutions, you could actually define a fairly consistent scroll point. But that was then, and nowadays of course there are so many devices and resolutions available – not to mention landscape or portrait views, or even whether desktop users have their browser window maximised or reduced, fonts resized, zoomed… Who could possibly suggest a reliable scroll point now?

What’s Wrong With Scrolling Anyway?

I don’t know about you but when faced with a long web page I don’t sit and stare at it, wishing there was some way I could read the rest. Like most other folk, I figured out a long time ago that I can scroll down for more goodies. In fact, I often spend more time viewing content further down a page than at the top.

Change The Conversation

So the fold isn’t a thing on the web. But scrolling certainly is, and it’s pretty popular. There’s a wealth of user testing data to back that up. Also, you’re still reading this aren’t you?

That’s not to say we should all create long pages. But surely we can drop this idea of cramming everything above some arbitrary fold mark, and instead focus on prioritizing content and creating a clear content hierarchy. If it’s compelling enough users will always scroll down. But what about CTAs I hear marketing teams cry? Well surely creativity and great copy are far bigger conversion drivers than just the vertical position of your button.

So next time your client talks about placing content “above the fold” ask them which fold? Galaxy SIII in portrait? iPad Mini landscape? Chromebook?... Also ask them if they know how to scroll.