The phase “above the fold” was relevant, and still is, when using it in context of newspaper design and layout but when using it in terms of web design “above the fold” has lost a lot of its meaning. In the 90’s most computer screens were lower in the resolution and smaller making the “above the fold” design more achievable since the viewing size of the site would be more consistent than it is now a days.

Technology has evolved throughout the years and now there are a wide variety of screen resolutions to consider when designing for the web. Not only are you designing for one specific resolution, or even just the resolutions for desktop, but you need to consider responsive design for the different mobile devices. Trying to incorporate the “above the fold” concept with all of the different screen resolutions in mind is nowhere near practical and will not help with UX.

For instance, we can make the content fit on a screen resolution of 1024×768 but each user has their own personal bower applications (toolbars, applications, etc.) that will take up different amount of vertical space which will result in different folds per each user. Another thing to consider is when we start scaling the site up we would get a huge white space below the footer on a 22” screen and when we scale down the content would shift to accommodate to the smaller screen and scrolling will be required.

There is plenty of research that shows the concept “above the fold” is not relevant anymore and nowadays people are used to scrolling down the page. A more powerful visual concept for web design compared to the traditional “above the fold” concept is to have less content on top, such as an interesting tag line or short content,  which will then encourage the user to scroll down and see the most important part and the main purpose of the site. You want to make sure that the site is balanced and not top heavy with information so there is a reason the user needs to scroll down.

As you can tell the fold for the web has become undefinable since there are so many different screen resolutions to consider. What would be considered “above the fold” on one users screen could be completely different on another users. With newspapers this concept works because of the consistency of the size of the paper however print and web are too different mediums.

[guest]Erin Lentz, is graphic/web designer at ArtVersion Interactive. She loves to write different topics about design, agency life, staying organized, technology and digital strategies.
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