"Above the Fold" and Designing for the Web

By Nathan Moore

I think too much attention is given to the concept of “above the fold,” especially in regards to web design. This concept was borrowed from older print design, and more specifically, newspaper design - Old media.

These days, many old-minded people still assign an unreasonable amount of value to “above the fold” on the web - or as it is now commonly referred to as… “above the scroll.” This is the portion of the page that a user will see without having to scroll down for more content.

1. The “Above the Scroll” area is important.

Don’t get me wrong. The top portion of the page is important. There is no doubt about that. However, the major problem is that the first reaction to the sense of “valuable real estate” is to try to cram as much information in the “above the scroll” area as possible. This is just wrong. Prioritize the information and have a keen editor’s eye.

2. User screen resolutions are different.

The days of 99% of users having a 800x600 screen resolution are over. Screen resolutions are so diverse now that it is difficult to tell exactly where the scroll line occurs. Because of this, the thought of defining the line becomes extremely vague.

3. Users know how to scroll.

For goodness sake, most mice now have scroll wheels. I think that many designers disregard the fact that users can scroll down for more content. In fact, most users scroll the entire page even if they do not read it… It is called skimming and users probably do it on your website more than you think. Learn to work with conventions, not against them.

When having a site designed for you, make sure the space at the top of your pages is used wisely, but do not overdo it. Define a list of the most important things on your site or page and use that as a guide to arrange the content effectively.




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