I know the fold should be a dead topic by now but you’d be surprised how often it still comes up. So I’ll take a stab addressing it and start by asking this simple question…
What Would You Do If There Were No Fold?
How would you prioritize your content? Fact is all content is not created equal and something has to give and should. Focus on the story you’re trying to tell and the true headliners will rise to the top on their own. It’s been proven time and again that when given content that interests them, visitors will scroll. In fact they’ll scroll until they stop finding content of interest. Just look at how Pinterest employs infinite scroll if you need proof.
As mobile device become the preferred way to browse the web it’s not feasible to put everything above the fold. So if we can find ways to prioritize content on mobile why do we insist on cramming everything at the top of a desktop layout? This is why designing and developing mobile-first can be so advantageous. It forces us to focus on the priorities of both features, functionality and content.
News Flash: The Fold Was Never Meant for Web
In print, the purpose of the fold was so the editor of the newspaper could ensure that the most important story of the day was visible when the paper was folded in half. Here lies our first problem, the fact that most sites have no skilled editor to oversee them. No one to say what is and isn’t lead story material and so everyone involved stakes their claim to a piece of real estate above the fold for their content. We all know how well that works.
The fold as it was originally intended no longer has a place when it comes to web design. That is, if it ever did. It made sense in the beginning when there were only a handful screen sizes and browsers to deal with. Plus, this was something we understood and it helped us bring some order to the chaos that was web in those early days.
But we have an even more compelling reason these days to cut loose this antiquated concept and create new ways of prioritizing our content. There’s been an onslaught of connected devices – computers, laptops, smartphones, tablets, e-readers, TV’s, gaming consoles, etc. over the last fews years Their physical size of the displays, resolutions and pixel densities vary wildly across the spectrum of devices. The days of a majority screen size are gone.
Over 4200 Served Quarterly
These days, any high traffic site can see significant number of different screen resolutions. In my post, Beyond the Numbers, I pointed out that on one site I worked on, in a single quarter over 4200 different screen resolutions were recorded and the largest percent of a single resolution (1368×768) accounted for a mere 11.48%. Furthermore, the number of screens larger and those smaller are fairly evenly distributed on either side of the “target” resolution.
We can’t control how our visitors view our content, so there’s no way to know what fold to target? It’s no longer practical to focus on an outdated concept that was never meant for web in the first place. But, if you still want deal with the fold may I suggest origami or better yet, come by my place and fold my laundry.
Want to know what others are saying about the fold? Google “above the fold is dead“