This just in…
The Earth is not flat.
In other news, there is no fold on the web.
I continue to hear, on seemingly a weekly basis, obsession about “the fold”. I still hear clients emphasize how all key information must be above the fold or users won’t see it at all. As if information that is not immediately visible to the user upon arrival to the web site falls into an inaccessible black hole, never to be glimpsed by the world.
What we designers and user experience voices have to do is politely explain that the Internet’s been around awhile now, and that users know they have to scroll to see everything on a page. Web pages have varying complexities and lots of information — you can’t cram it all in a small, confined area, nor should you.
Also, all computers, monitors and browsers aren’t created equally. Screen resolution, differences in browsers and things like tool bars make that “fold” line different for everybody. It’s impossible to find a common line that enables all users to see the desired information without any scrolling.
Of course, I’m not saying there isn’t value to strategically locating your most key information and tools at the top of your page. You want the most important things for your users to be the easiest and clearest to reach and use. Placement is very important, as is concise, impactful content. These are tenets of good user experience.
But, in short, there is no fold! The web is not a newspaper. Those things are heading in opposite directions.
When you have a good rapport with your clients, there are a couple clever, playful locations you can send them to illustrate this point. Colleagues of mine and I have recently used them to drive home the idea:
Of course, because of the fold, I probably lost you somewhere around “Also, all computers, monitors and browsers aren’t created equally.” Bummer!