Beyond The Fold: How Web Development Has Scrolled Into The Future
In the graphic design industry, the term ‘fold’ got its name from newspapers, who would post their most captivating content on the top part of their front page. This was so that these headlines would, while folded, still be legible by people passing the newspaper stand and therefore, drive up sales. The same logic was applied to web design and the digital fold was considered to be the fixed area of the screen before the user scrolled down.
In the early days, a website development company could easily determine how big this area would be and it was general practice to place all important information above the fold to clearly show what they offered as most users were focusing their attention on this area. Up until a decade ago, it was easy to determine the boundary of the fold since you knew you needed to optimise for screens with 1024×768 pixels. Nowadays, this has changed significantly, with screens of different sizes and an increase in users of mobile devices, which not only different sizes but can also change in screen size with a simple tilt to the side. With the number of screen resolutions there are now and so many variations, we are left with one question – where should the fold be and should it even exist?
Continue reading to learn more about why the fold is a thing of the past and the birth of scrolling beyond the fold.
Best Practice Or Common Practice?
Even though the fold principle is not as important as it used to be, we should not ignore it completely and simply place elements anywhere we like on a website. The upper part of the screen will always be significant no matter how hard it is to determine the border of the fold. What is placed on the upper part of the screen is still an important consideration, but with recent developments in design, this means that we don’t have to cram all of the information into that space.
A Longer Page Doesn’t Mean A Lower Conversion Rate
There has been a lot of debate about long vs short pages and their correlation to conversion rates. Data shows that the length alone is not the decisive factor. So, what is? The issue revolves around the content of the page, how it is organised and how this contributes to a positive experience for the user. In other words, conversion rates depend on how useful and engaging the content and the design is to the user, rather than on the length of the page or the amount of scrolling they have to do or don’t have to do.
People Are Scrolling More
Looking into the research, you may be surprised to learn that no matter the design of the website, 91-100% of users scrolled beyond the fold and 66% of attention on a normal media page is invested below the fold. This means, that while the above the fold information attracts your users to keep on scrolling, what they find below the fold matters too as it holds their attention and influences conversions. According to studies, users really don’t mind scrolling. We no longer need to jam everything above the fold, but instead, make the scroll smooth and even, thus improving the user experience.
Why Should You Still Care What Is Before The Scroll?
There are still reasons to pay attention to the information you choose to display above the fold, or better said, above the scroll since there isn’t a real border for the fold anymore. Firstly, customers have so many options available since the number of websites is growing at an incredible pace. Add to that the impatience of an average customer and you’ll find you have 10 seconds to convince them to stay on your website. The burden of retaining a reader falls on the shoulders of the information placed before the scroll. What you place on the upper part of the screen can drastically increase the dwell time, the time users stay on your website. This, in turn, can reward you with a higher place in the search results and more visitors.
To Fold Or Not To Fold?
Nowadays, each device has its own unique size and resolution, which determines a unique fold position. We no longer need to place all the information above the fold, only the most important, useful information with its purpose being to help the visitors to decide that the content is worth reading at all. Remember, users don’t mind scrolling, once they have decided that it’s worth their time. For many users, scrolling has actually become a habit, and users will typically scroll until they have gathered enough information to take the next step, so give them what they need to decide to take it, above the fold and encourage them to stick around with what you provide below.