July 2, 2015 | By:

Let’s talk about “The Fold”

We hear it a lot; client feedback that is focused on what content is and is not “above the fold”. To be perfectly honest, this old newspaper term can be a cause of frustration when it comes to good user experience (UX) design.

If you’re reading this, chances are that you’re already familiar with the phrase, but just in case this is a new concept to you, your punishment is a Wikipedia article:


There are a couple of issues to discuss here, so let’s dig in.

1. “The Fold” is a moving target.

Depending on screen resolution, device size and orientation, the amount of vertical space that is displayed in a web browser before any scrolling changes a lot.

To illustrate this better, let’s look at a website on a laptop:

website on laptop
The same site on an iPhone:

same site on phone
How about a horizontally oriented iPhone?

horizontally on phone

As you can see, “The Fold” is the epitome of a moving target.

So if this ubiquitous term has such a loosey goosey definition, what good is it?

2. The value of a first impression.

Clients often want high-level copy visible above the fold. This can be particularly challenging for a few reasons, not the least of which is putting an unrealistic limitation on a website layout.

I’ve known many a talented designer that would like to see the “Above The Fold” term die a fiery death, but there is something to it. The problem is, that “something” is not what most people think.

That “something” is enticement: the motivation to engage with the site on more than a superficial “Above The Fold” level. When described in these terms, this concept just makes sense. You can’t fit the sum total of your brand or message on one computer screen, so why would you hobble that first impression by cramming every bit of content possible into it? You shouldn’t.

Instead, the focus should be on presenting something worth exploring, incentivizing your visitor to discover who you are.

Case in point: Billy Bob’s Texas

Billy Bob’s is a Texas institution. Generations of good-time folks have had a lot of fun in these hallowed halls.

One of the delightful challenges in designing and building a site to suit this legendary honky tonk was that there’s a lot to it. Bull riding, dance lessons, shopping, eating, drinking, an arcade and more can be enjoyed here. How do you get all that across “Above The Fold”?

The simple answer is that you don’t. As much as Billy Bob’s is a Texas Disney Land, it’s first and foremost a music venue. The vast majority of the returning visitors to the site (which constitute most of the site’s traffic) are interested in seeing which iconic music act is appearing there next. With that in mind, there is no screen size or device that isn’t teased by the next big show without scrolling. No way can users get it all “Above The Fold”, but they’re invited to explore, and they are rewarded for it.

In summary:

Is “Above The Fold” a thing? Sort of, but only if you use it right.

If you’d like to talk more about offering your website visitor incentive to engage with your brand or any other kind of marketing, give me a call on my cell at 817-586-5820, or email me at [email protected]. I love talking about this stuff.

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