What is the fold?
The concept of ‘the fold’ dates back to the days of print newspapers, where the finite space available determined how information could be presented. Important content would grab attention with bold headings on the front page, rather than being tucked away 12 pages deep in a small postage-stamp-sized article.
When the internet was still in its early stages, this concept found its way into the digital realm. Users, unfamiliar with the workings of web pages, were reluctant to venture beyond the initial screen and scroll down lengthy pages. Hence, the digital ‘fold’ became synonymous with the opening screen of a website.
Is the fold still relevant today?
Web design and the advancement of technology has come a long way in a short period of time, it can be hard to keep up! This being said, it is crucial to frequently reassess some traditional practices in order to provide the best user experience possible – “the fold” being one of them.
There are a number of reasons why “the fold” is no longer relevant. These include:
Changes in user behaviour
With the rise of smartphones and tablets, browsing habits have shifted dramatically. Users now access websites on various screen sizes and resolutions, making it nearly impossible to define a standard “fold” for all devices. What appears above “the fold” on a desktop may be completely different on a smaller mobile screen. As a result, it’s best to focus on creating a seamless experience throughout the entire page rather than confining content to a limited area.
Scrolling is the new norm
Scrolling has become an intuitive and natural behaviour for users. Mobile interfaces heavily rely on swiping and scrolling gestures, encouraging users to explore content vertically. Popular platforms like social media and news websites have conditioned users to expect continuous scrolling experiences. Consequently, valuable content should be distributed strategically throughout the page, rather than being constrained by the arbitrary boundary of “the fold.”
Content hierarchy and engagement
Placing too much emphasis on “the fold” can hinder effective content hierarchy and engagement. Important information can be pushed above “the fold” at the expense of relevant and engaging content that lies below. Users are more likely to engage with a website that captivates their attention and provides a seamless flow of information. By designing with a holistic approach, we can create visually appealing pages that encourage users to explore further and interact with the content.
As technology continues to evolve, the concept of “the fold” has become an outdated practice in web design. Modern design approaches should prioritise user-centric experiences, fluidity, and responsiveness across devices. Embracing a holistic design perspective enables us to create engaging, visually appealing websites that adapt to various screen sizes and provide a seamless flow of content.
Zoltán Gócza – https://uxmyths.com/post/654047943/myth-people-dont-scroll
Therese Fessenden – https://www.nngroup.com/articles/scrolling-and-attention/