What fold?

folded-newspapers

It doesn't matter how many times we explain it, clients are still concerned with the fold.

The fold does not exist on the web, especially when we do our jobs as web designers and developers.

The fold is a print holdout. Today's devices are all different sizes, and modern design responds to those devices.

Yes, more users see the top of pages than the bottom of pages. But how many users that convert stay at the top of the page? I'd argue users that don't scroll are largely users that would bounce anyway, or are users that we're driving away ourselves.

That's not to say we should be lazy. We should encourage exploration in our websites. If anyone can kill the fold the fastest, it's web designers. If you cram everything up top, what's going to encourage the user to scroll?

Our calls to action, attention to detail for good typography, focus on content, and other design practices should be designed to be flexible across platforms, and focus not on the barriers of an arbitrary view but the quality and readability of the content and story within those barriers.

Here are some of my favorite resources on the fold, with some insight you may not have heard before. Take this information, and destroy the myth of the fold to your clients.

Similar Posts

7 Comments

  1. If anyone can kill the fold the fastest, it’s web designers

    yes, I agree completely.

    And I’m board with the fact that the fold is dead and that it’s been dead for years. Despite conventional wisdom, I’d say that it’s probably dead for five to six years now.

    The question I can’t seem to fully come to answer is why do we continue to talk about it? I don’t be that again your post – it’s a productive contribution to the conversation.

    What I mean is that in a world full of multi-size devices, how people come to the conclusion that the fold exists when the fold, if it did exist, varies from device to device?

    Thanks for bring this up on the site, Brian. This is one of those conversations that’s gotta keep happening until we can drop “the fold” from design and developer vernacular :).

    1. The only reason I talk about it is because it keeps coming up in client interactions πŸ™‚

      It’s amazing how some of the strangest things on the web have really made it into the minds of clients (the fold, sliders, etc) while we have such a difficult time explaining and getting across the practices we’d love them to support!

      1. Personally, I think it’s because we – as humans – are still trying to map the things we see online to “real world” objects.

        This used to work (see examples like Drudge Report that still mirror newspaper columns) for other sites, but the web has changed and the world has stayed the same.

        It’s a bit of a paradox where newspapers and magazines are trying to figure out to port themselves to web and still make money, and we’re stuck trying to figure out how to make our websites model the very things that aren’t working :).

  2. The fold is definitely obscured now, but there is still some information that will appear first on all devices. I would say optimizing your value proposition and making sure it appears without scrolling on all devices could be called optimizing for “the fold.” That said, I’ve seen more examples of sites moving their call to action lower on the page (could be self-confirmation bias tho :P). For a product that is expensive either in price or switching costs, in particular, it seems inappropriate to include a CTA in the “fold”.

    Brian, I keep saying “fold” and it’s probably driving you nuts. What should I say instead? Isn’t there some additional value in the immediately visible portion of your site?

    1. What should I say instead? Isn’t there some additional value in the immediately visible portion of your site?

      That’s the problem. It’s visible in varying degrees depending on the platform. I’d say just about the only thing visible on every platform is the header, and even that will change on small devices — significantly so sometimes.

      A “fold” sounds hard. It sounds static. The “modern fold”, whatever that is, is fluid. I agree a new term for that would be great. I’ll think on it, but I’m not exactly a little Brad Frost over here so don’t expect much. πŸ™‚

  3. I disagree slightly, I think the term fold should stay because you will have a hard time removing what has become industry jargon. To me it simply means the first visible section of the site, nothing more nothing less. What does need to change is mindset, people need to be educated about how fluid it is, and to not put as much emphasis or give it as much importance as it once, and still does, get. Changing mindset is as hard as coining a new term, but isn’t it a part of our jobs to educate people where we can?

Comments are closed.