Myth: Above the Fold

We’ve suddenly been getting lots of requests from clients to place certain elements of the page “above the fold” so that users don’t have to scroll down to access these elements.

And so I’ve been needing to explain that this concept, originally from the newspaper industry where big stories are placed on the top part of the page above where the paper gets folded, somehow forced itself into web design.

The thing is, this myth has long been dispelled (as long ago as 1997 by famed usability expert Jakob Nielsen). Users know how to scrolls, and will scroll to see more content.

Not only that, the “fold” doesn’t even really exist anymore. With an infinite number of browser sizes, browser resolutions, monitor sizes & orientations, screen resolutions, etc. the “fold” is impossible to pinpoint. Some users will even see much less of the so-called golden area (the first 600 pixels), and many users will see much more. Most users don’t think twice about scrolling, but when in the seat of being a “client” and analyzing a website’s design and content in a more critical manner, it seems that we suddenly forget our actual viewing and browsing habits and try to logically create systems that aren’t necessarily true.

There’s already a lot of great writing on this concept, so I won’t go further into this as many have already described this phenomenon much better than I, but if you’re thinking about placing things “above the fold,” I would highly recommend taking a closer look at the following links:

The myth of the page fold: evidence from user testing (cxpartners)

Myth #3: People don’t scroll (UX Myths)

Life Below 600px (Paddy Donnelly)

Blasting the Myth of the Fold (boxes and arrows)

Scrolling and Attention (Jakob Nielsen)

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