The “Above the Fold” Myth

This subject has a rich heritage dating back to the old newspaper days where big stories were placed on the top half of the page above where the paper gets folded. The school of thought was, people would read this first.  Once they started reading, they would maybe advance in to the newspaper to read the full story.  If they didn’t go past the first page, it didn’t matter because all the important stuff was above the fold. This school of thought carried over to Websites for some bizarre reason and in to the 21st century (even more bizarre).

Above the FoldMost people know that Website users scroll.  You, yourself, indeed scroll.  You had to scroll this page to read what you’re reading now. So, why is it that client’s continually ask to stuff content above the fold (or the first 600 – 800 pixels)? And why do “marketing gurus” (huge expensive companies) continue to advise their clients to make sure everything is  “above the fold”?

Where content flows is different from one device to another.  What you see on a iPad, is totally different from what you see on a PC running IE8 or an Android phone.  Where the content flows is arbitrary these days.  There is no standard or fold.

Some elements for functionality need to be in plain sight and easily accessible on a Web page. For instance the navigation; your audience needs to find this easily.  In this way, you’re helping them find the information they need.  It’s helpful to them.  And certainly your company name and logo need to be in the forefront.

Another key element that should be seen, initially, is what your company does. People need to know instantly what your company or organization can do for them. Not how long you’ve been in business, not your mission, not a picture of your building, but what you can do for them.  That’s the only reason they’re at your Website…because you’re offering something for them.  Tell them what it is, simply and easily and we recommend visually. Don’t make them look. You only have a fraction of a second to do this.  Stuffing things in front of their face, like ads, text content, and messages to go here and go there, will confuse them.  if you’ve done your job of showing them what you can do for them, they will scroll and click, they will want to know more and they will buy your product or use your services.

Tell your story. Let your Website designer show you the best way and let’s not be overly concerned with what’s “above the fold”.

Didn’t make my case? What to know more?

Myth #3: People don’t scroll (UX Myths)

Life Below 600px (Paddy Donnelly)

Blasting the Myth of the Fold (boxes and arrows)

Scrolling and Attention (Jakob Nielsen)