Over the last 20 years, you may have heard the term “Above The Fold” when it comes to web design. I have had hundreds of clients mention this, even in todays world of desktops, laptops, tablets and phones.
But before we get in too deep, let me explain where the term “Above the Fold” comes from. It originated in the newspaper industry, referring when a folded newspaper is stacked on top of one another. Only the top half of the newspaper is visible, this is above the fold.
Above the fold is the upper half of the front page of a newspaper or tabloid where an important news story or photograph is often located. Papers are often displayed to customers folded so that only the top half of the front page is visible. Thus, an item that is “above the fold” may be one that the editors feel will entice people to buy the paper.
So how did this migrate over to web design?
“Above the fold is also used in website design (along with “above the scroll”) to refer to the portion of the webpage that is visible without scrolling.”
If you are old enough to remember dial-up modems and AOL, the you also remember old CRT monitors or the original iMacs. (The bubble ones in all those colors.)
Back then, almost everyone was running the same screen size, 800×600. Therefore, the “fold” was definable, that being anything above the 600px mark. Also, due to the very slow internet speeds, most of websites were filled with text and minimal pictures & design.
Let’s take a look at this study done 15 years ago:
“A 2006 study by Jakob Nielsen found that 77% of visitors to a website do not scroll, and therefore only see the portion of the website that is above the fold.”
So if we have this study, why am I so adamant about not using the phrase.
Well, first of all, the way people surfed the internet 15 years ago is drastically different than how people surf the internet today. This is due to may different things, but the big two is simple: Facebook and Youtube.
Because of advent of those two sites, scrolling is now not only ubiquitous, it’s down right second nature.
Secondly, the reason why “above the fold” is irrelevant should be an obvious one. EVERYONE HAS DIFFERENT SIZE COMPUTERS! The most popular screen resolution is 1366×768, which accounts for 24.8%. 52.2% of people have custom screen resolutions that are OVER 1920×1080! This is because screens are getting bigger, and screen resolutions are much better and more detailed.
If this all sounds like mumbo-jumbo, let me put it in layman’s terms. Have you ever seen a laptop where the text looks really small, and it’s probably used for gaming? Thats a very high resolution. Have you looked at an older person’s computer and the text is very large? That’s a larger resolution.
With that being said, referencing a term that referred to 800×600 screen resolution is just plain silly.
As screen sizes vary drastically there is no set definition for the number of pixels that define the fold. This is because different screen resolutions will show different portions of the website without scrolling. Further complicating matters, many websites adjust their layout based on the size of the browser window, such that the fold is not a static feature of the page.
This is important: “many websites adjust their layout based on the size of the browser window”.
One design trend in 2021 is the “full screen slider”. The slider displays pictures and usually a short motto or description of this business. The first slide is the most important.
For Example: The first slide could display a Pizza, with text over it that says something like “Voted Best Pizza in the Bay!Open 11-11 daily, with curbside pick-up!”
This idea a “full screen” is an eye-catching technique that forces someone to read that all important message. Usually people don’t stay around for that second screen, but you got that important point across.
With new software, achieving full screen for every browser is now simple. That picture and important info will always be full screen.
So in conclusion:
1. Everyone rocks different screen sizes and resolutions.
2. Everybody scrolls.
3. Most websites designed for B2B are rocking full screen sliders.
4. “Above the fold” is irrelevant. Stop saying it.