Is Designing Above the Fold Dead?

by on September 2, 2014

One of the criticisms we hear most from clients when they review their website design for the first time is that something important is not above the fold. This begins the debate of whether or not designing for above the fold is dead.

Let’s start at the beginning with ‘what the fold’ is; the fold was originally coined as a graphic design term, and used especially in newspapers. The most important information was always placed above the fold line in newspapers because it would be the first thing readers would see without having to open the paper or flip any pages. This rule was then carried over to the web so the users would see the most relevant information without having to click or scroll.

Good idea right? Keep the information you want people to see about your business at the very top. Well that really isn’t always the case anymore. As technology advances there are far more considerations you must make about choosing where information goes on your website.

With the internet and today’s technology, we aren’t limited to a single interface or method of how to display information (compared to the newspaper). What matters today is that the information is sharable and portable. Users can view your site on their phone on the way to work, at home with their tablet or on their computer. Screen sizes are becoming larger, and in some cases becoming even smaller with mobile/tablets. This means that every user will have a different view of your site and the fold will not be in the same place on every screen. How can you create a design that would display the same on a bunch of different devices? The truth is…you can’t!

Every single screen is different and there is no way to accommodate them all to have all the information before you scroll. The best way to get a user to read all of your important information is to organize it well and give the information some kind of hierarchy.

Simple ways to keep your information user friendly are:

  • Don’t use lengthy paragraphs, try to keep things short and sweet.
  • Organize your information well. Make sure there is a good flow for the user to read through.
  • Use graphics and photos so that people will have a visual to go with the text.
  • Don’t put EVERYTHING on your homepage. Be selective about what you want someone to see right away.

Just because a certain piece of information is not at the top of your site doesn’t mean a user won’t see it. Studies have shown that users are more willing to scroll down a page when searching for information they are looking for rather than to click in order to find it. Don’t worry that you can’t see all the information on your website at first glance, users will scroll to get the information that they need.

So maybe above the fold design isn’t dead yet, but that certainly doesn’t mean that anything below the first few hundred pixels is obsolete.


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