The Legend of the Fold

When the Web was new, no one knew how to approach design problems. All we knew was how we had approached them in the past. In newspapers, books, and brochures, there had always been an issue with limited space. So the prevailing logic of the time was to approach the limited amount of information one can display on a screen the same way.

How?

Newspapers had given the most important information a spot at the top of the paper, above the fold. This logic was applied to designing for the web as well. The most important information should be presented on screen without scrolling.

This idea was the prevailing opinion for many years, but as it goes with technology, things change.

Advances like the scroll wheel, responsive web design, and touch devices reduce the influence that “the fold” has on a user. That begs the question, “What should I do to give attention to my most important information?”

Think of the Users

Who is using your site? What are they doing? Why are they doing it?

Answering these questions before you start, either hypothetically or with usage statistics from your site, will lead to a much better visitors experience. Just like thinking about your customers first impression walking in the door of your book store, this helps you realize the details you might miss or take for granted.

How We Use This

Here at Books & Whatnot, our goal is to make it as easy for you (our users) to get information as possible. That is why we summarize each article, and link to details. In this way, each user can scan for what they are interested in themselves. We think of our users.

There Are More Steps

This first exercise has more to do with planning than it has to do with actually building the website. And while there will be further writing on how to use this planning, with this step, most others will yield far more fruitful results.

Further reading from our sources

Boxes & Arrows – “Blasting the Myth of the Fold”

Sitepoint – “The Fold Exists but Does it Matter?”

UX Myths – Myth #3: People don’t scroll

Kenton Hansen

Technical Co-Founder
Kenton makes digital things. He is a technologist and has had his part in a few startups including software, advertising, and client services.
@KentonH