The debate is a heated one. When it comes to web design, does it matter if things are designed “above the fold“?
What does web design above the fold mean anyways? Well, as you may recall, when newspaper was king, any information that appeared above the point at which the newspaper was folded would be the first thing the reader would see when the paper was on the newsstand. To that end one would place the most important information above the fold.
When the web took root in the hearts of the everyday user, the only point of access was a computer. Thus forth web design considered ‘above the fold’ to be the point above where the user would have to scroll to read more content. Now of course at that time everybody accessed the internet via a computer. And computers tended to have roughly the same size monitor. The difference with the web today is that the access point for the internet comes from several places. Computer, mobile device, phone, vehicle navigation and so on. And screen sizes are so vast and varied that some argue that there really is no fold. But in reality all screens have that point in which one will have to scroll. In a sense that becomes ‘the fold’ for that device. And truth be told, as users we are always more interested in the information at the top of a page then the information contained within.
Why is that? Because its the information at the top of a page that indicates to us whether or not we are in the right place. When considering this in web design then one should endeavor to put important information high up on the page. Things designed high up on a website will draw in the user.
What information should go in this coveted area? Well we obviously can’t put everything above the fold. As a matter of fact, if we cram too much info into one area we will only serve to confuse and annoy the end user. And we all know what happens when we end up on an annoying site. That’s right, CLICK. Back to the search bar and try again. So there has to be some kind of order or hierarchy. So put things above the fold that indicate to the end user that they are in the right place yet, at the same time, will engage the user so that they will want to scroll down to find even more treasure. And speaking of treasure. Avoid having a page that is unduly long. If we overwhelm the user with too much content then they’ll be scared away. Have the appropriate amount of content to match the message. Remember a better user experience will mean better conversions. And don’t forget to hide some treasures even further down.
So, is ‘above the fold’ something a web designer should be concerned with? Yes, most definitely!