You may be asking yourself does your company website have a fold? If you don’t have a company website, you may be asking does your favourite website have a fold? Well, yes it does. Every website does. Or does it?
Well, what if I told you the fold in a website changes depending on what you’re viewing the website on? Your brand new 24” iMac at home, your 7-year old 13” CRT at the office or your mobile phone of choice. Each device provides you with a different experience when you view a website. But in terms of the fold – each one shows you a different amount of content when you land on it.
Well, what is the fold?
The fold is considered the portion of the webpage visible before you start scrolling down. As shown here:
In the past I’ve been asked by clients to re-shuffle content so it fits above this invisible, undeterminable fold. As a designer that can be tough. I’ll always try and educate the client to what they’re asking and why it’s fairly pointless as everyone viewing the website will see the fold differently – depending on their screen monitor size, resolution, browser and device. So which do you design for?
This idea that only important information on a website is ‘above the fold’ has been inherited from newspapers. With a paper the aim is to put the most eye-catching story on the folded over, most visible part of the paper.
Should we design to the fold?
Ultimately a website or an article should utilise the top of the page (above the fold) to grab the user! Once drawn in by the content surely they will scroll down to the bottom and find out everything they want or need to know? I mean if you’re reading this now you have travelled far below the fold. So essentially I’ve done my job - I’ve pushed you past the fold and beyond.
I like to think that this is where you separate the rules and the guidelines. A rule should be obeyed; a guideline should be kept in mind. When it comes to web design it’s easy to stumble into these supposed rules… But what I’d say to my fellow designers is don’t ever be afraid to question these supposed rules!
Ask yourself: is it a rule, or a guideline masquerading as a rule?
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