The Fold Manifesto How to Encourage Scrolling

Does the fold still matter today when we’re designing for a lot of different screen sizes from large desktop monitors to tiny phones? Does the idea of the fold still have relevance in terms of Web design? The idea of the fold comes from the print world, where the fold is literally the top half of the newspaper, where you can see it without unfolding the paper. When we move to the digital world, the term fold started to mean the content that you can see on a screen without scrolling. So the exact measurement of this is trickier to discover when you’re designing for a whole world of devices, a whole ecosystem of devices, you can still estimate different pixel measurements by looking at what are the most common devices on the market. What are the most common devices that are coming to see your content? So it’s still possible to get a rough estimate of what the fold is in terms of pixels. The fold is a concept. The fold is what the user sees without scrolling on the page. Any time the user has to scroll, that’s an extra action that’s adding to their interaction cost to the work that they need to do in order to find content on a page. But more importantly, what appears above the fold, what appears without scrolling is what cues the user to actually scroll down the page so users don’t just scroll because they like scrolling. They scroll because they come to a page, they assess the content that they see without scrolling, and they decide whether it’s likely that the content they want is on that page or not. If they have that quick assessment and they don’t think the content is going to be there, they’re going to go away to another page on your site, to another site altogether, or they might even abandon the task. So it’s really essential to think about what you’re representing at the top of that page.

You can also think of ways to encourage users to scroll to engage them. And it could be through engaging content, engaging imagery. It could be through clear site structure or clear page structure that really helps people understand what this particular page is about and whether the answer that they’re looking for is there. So while it might be more difficult today to actually come up with a pixel measurement to represent the fold, the concept of having engaging and compelling content that will drive users down the page to the information that they need is still essential to a good user experience.

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