The Fold

Posted: 28 November, 2019

If you work in the web, you will undoubtably have come across a client referring to "the fold"... Wait.. Whatnow? Computer screens don’t have folds. They have scrollbars!

The term “the fold” comes from newspapers. Which are inevitably folded in half. The headline needed to come before the fold, to draw people’s attention to them. Not so on a screen. Websites don’t have this. You don’t fold them up! Sure it’s important to set out your content so its hierarchy is based around importance. But that doesn’t mean jam everything into the top 500 pixels! Not everything is important. So think carefully about your content. Don’t just lazily stuff it into a carousel either. Carousels are a bad idea. They hide content and automatically place an importance hierarchy onto your content. Plus every site and it’s mother has a boring carousel these days. Dare to be different!

It is a complete myth that users don’t scroll. Users love to scroll. It’s not an imposition to get people to do it either... They appreciate that the content can breathe, that it’s easy to read and well laid out.

People scroll without even thinking. As long as your content is well arranged, then it’s not a problem for people to scroll about a page to find what they want.

It’s a complete misnomer that scrolling is a hindrance. Informing your client that it is is pretty naive in this day and age. As is referring to “the fold” when you are taking about screens. It makes you sound all old-fashioned, like from back in the days of tables and image maps. Where everything was built in full-screen Shockwave.

Long gone are the days where web devs struggled to cram content into a page because the client decided for some arbitrary reason that scrolling was bad… Whenever I hear this nowadays I think “Uh, oh. This client is going to be trouble”.

Screen resolutions vary wildly. A modern website will look very different on a mobile device to how it looks on a desktop. Sites are designed around content. This content should be allowed to breathe.

I’m henceforth banning the discussion of “the fold” in any of my work, from now on. It doesn’t exist. It never existed and that’s that.