As a designer, I regularly have clients who come to me and talk about the way that they want their websites to look. A question that I am often asked is this ”Is that above ‘the fold?’ ”
Before I carry on, let’s backtrack and think about this.
Firstly, what is 'the fold?' It was a term, originally used in print journalism, and meant that any major headlines and important stories/images would be reserved for the top half of the page.
‘The fold’ ensured that, when a newspaper was folded, passers-by would still be able to see headlines without opening the newspaper and be more likely to purchase a copy.
Secondly, should designers and clients worry about 'the fold' when creating websites?
When the web was in its infancy, monitors were generally smaller than screens today. Whenever designers built websites, they too, would follow a similar tactic to that of newspapers.
Content-wise, everything used to be displayed in the top half of the webpage to keep it visible. This resulted in articles being extended into multiple pages. So instead of scrolling down to view content, readers had to click the ‘next’ button to see and read more content.
Thankfully things have significantly changed (for the better) since then!
Today, people browse the Internet on a variety of devices including desktop computers, laptops, mobiles, tablets and more. Innovations in technology, such as smartphones, have transformed the way that responsive design is now used when building websites. This means that webpages must be adaptable, easy to view and easy to use regardless of what device they are being accessed on.
But what does these innovations mean for designers and clients who are looking to create websites that can be used on different devices?
Design-wise, this mainly involves altering the point of scaling in accordance to what device is being used. For example, ‘the fold’ on a mobile is completely different to that of a laptop, which in turn sharply contrasts with that of a desktop computer.
As for websites having extended pages, like ‘the fold,’ they too are quickly becoming a thing of the past. In most websites, their mobile versions almost always require users to scroll when viewing content.
Many studies have been conducted to test the validity of ‘the fold’ hypothesis and, so far, they’ve all shown that today’s users are far more likely to scroll.
So my answer to any client who asks me about ‘the fold’ would be this: “We don’t need to worry about what is above 'the fold,' because 'the fold' no longer exists.”
It’s a given that good content will always be king, so we don’t need to feel anxious about creating longer pages, as people actually love to scroll.
Think of popular websites such as the BBC, The New York Times, and Amazon. What is the one key feature that they have in common? They all have long pages which don’t discourage their users from browsing and scrolling down to read articles/view products.
As long as a mobile website is functional, well designed and contains good content, most candidates/customers will not mind scrolling down to read whatever content is there because it’s worth reading.
As designers, our main priority, is to create websites that are fully functional and have a compelling layout that give candidates/customers a great user experience. This will keep them coming back to buy products/services from your website.
We can successfully achieve the latter, by adding in cutting edge animations, banners, interactions and pieces of content that are engaging. By implementing such features, I guarantee you that your candidates/customers will be pleased instead of annoyed.
At 4MAT, we create experience rich, fully functional and visually striking websites for employers and agencies. Our websites are specifically designed to provide candidates with a great user experience.
To see how we can help to improve online user experiences for your company contact us on +44(0)20 7247 9494 to speak with a member of our Client Development Team.