‘There’s no fold! There’s no fold!’ cried the web designer. Well, I’ve got news for you pal: of course, there’s a fold.
What’s the fold?
The fold is an old media term used to talk about the content that is above the physical fold on a broadsheet newspaper’s front page. On a website, the fold is traditionally the point at which most people’s browser stops before they have to scroll to view the rest of the content.
This analogy may sound a bit weak and old hat but it is actually very strong because just as the content above the fold on the newspaper draws in potential readers who will pick up said paper from the newsagent shelf and unfold it to read the rest so to does the ‘above the fold’ content on a website encourage the user to click-through to the next page or scroll down to the bottom and read all the content.
But nobody scrolls
You’ve probably come across inexperienced clients who think users won’t/don’t scroll and that all their content should be above the fold. The problem here is not that ‘there is no fold’ it’s that the client doesn’t understand what their most important content is.
Users scroll everyday in Microsoft Word, Excel and their email clients. They scroll down on BBC news pages all day long; to put it short they expect to scroll to find the content that they need.
So what’s the point
Content is king, and the most important content should be at the top so as to draw the user’s attention; auxiliary content should follow after it and your design should inform the user that they can scroll to see more content.
Part of your job is client education
The next time your client wants the entire kitchen sink placed ‘above the fold’; it’s your job to help them work out which of their content is the most important (to their customers); what is the primary goal for that page and then explain to them that this primary content needs to go towards the top and in view when the website loads – then the supporting content can go below.
Your client won’t complain when the click-through-ratio on their call to action buttons improve once those press releases get moved down the page a wee bit.