Let Go of the Mythic Website Fold
No matter how unfamiliar people are with web development, one concept is universally known: The Fold. I don’t ever bring it up, and yet it rears its ugly head at the start of nearly every web design project.
Check out this excerpt from a keenly written blog post, Life Below 600px:
Imagine a newspaper squashed all of its quality content on the front page. How disappointed would you be to open the paper to only find the leftovers? The same happens with your site. If everything of exceptional quality is pushed upon the reader at the beginning, once they start exploring and the rest of the site isn’t of the same calibre, they’re going to be let down.
I’m going to let you in on a change in your behavior that you’re probably not even aware of. You have evolved as a web surfer in the past few years. You don’t just look for information in the top half of a website; you scroll. You scroll more now than you have ever before. And it’s because the mythical fold is irrelevant.
It used to be that pretty much everyone had their computers’ screen sizes set to 800×600. So when standards in web design were developed, the fold (modeled off the fold in a newspaper) was said to be 600 pixels down the screen. If you wanted your audience to see anything on your website, you had to cram it into the top of the site. If a user scrolled down through these top-heavy messes, they would find little to no important information. And since people weren’t finding anything relevant in the lower portions of websites, they stopped scrolling, and the myth of the fold persisted.
Think about the difference between how people view the Internet now and how they did 15 years ago. They no longer view it using their trusty square-shaped monitors. They use tablets, smart phones, laptops, desktops, all with different screen sizes, all rectangular. And since people have gotten more computer savvy, most know they can get more real estate on their screens by changing the resolution.
My screen’s resolution is 1680×1050, which means that a website that is 1050 pixels high is easily viewable on my screen without even scrolling. That’s almost twice where the mythical fold is supposed to be. Your display might be set to 1024×768 or any of about 20 other possibilities, but it’s highly unlikely that it’s 800×600.
So the fold wants to die. Quietly. Modestly. It wants to bow out of my world as a web designer and – guess what? – your world as a website viewer.