Web Design and The Fold

In web design, above the fold is a concept that refers to anything that appears in the browser when a website first loads, without having the need to scroll. The term is borrowed from the newspaper industry where above the fold came to represent the area of the front page that faced a potential customer on a newsstand.

In order to read this article you are going to have to scroll, it’s a fact with most websites. A long time ago we learned that we have to scroll to use a webpage; do you know anyone who has broken a finger on the scroll wheel? Even so the above the fold notion still remains.

How to find out where the fold is on your website.

First of all, you’ve got to bear in mind that the fold is an abstract concept, abstract because it relies on the resolution of your monitor. The higher the resolution, the lower down the fold will be. So in fact what we are talking about is the average.

The fold is an increasingly shifting beast. It used to be that everyone viewed the web through relatively similar sized monitors, with the same resolution using Internet Explorer. Those days are gone. Today you might view the web through any number of browsers, via different monitors and on different devices such as your desktop Mac, laptop PC, iPhone and probably before long iPad, each time it is likely the fold will be positioned differently.

If you want to see what your average customer sees, go into your web analytics software and view your visitors screen resolutions, calculate the median average screen resolution from the results. Next change your monitors screen resolution to those settings (if you can) and check out where the bottom of the browser is. This view is what the average person viewing your website is going to see.

Why position things above the fold?

You don’t have to! The temptation is to create a web page with everything above the fold. You cram everything in there, to hell with the white space and readability! But it doesn’t have to be that way.

The fold is a guideline, a rule of thumb, however it seems to have become the defector over-arching rule of web design, one to which most web designers blindly obey without ever questioning.

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