Web Design: Does ‘The Fold’ Matter Anymore?

If you’ve learnt web design over the past 20 years you will have had ‘the fold’ drilled into you on an almost daily basis. The idea was that anything that required the user to scroll down beyond the first screen was dramatically less effective than that of the initial viewable aspects of a website. But is that still relevant? How have tablet devices and mobile internet affected ‘the fold’?

There is certainly a shift away from the importance placed on being below the fold, with more fluid web designs creating an overall better user experience. Indeed usability has begun to evolve beyond the emphasis placed on the order of elements, with a need for more clean, clear and adaptable sites taking precedent. If your site is easy to scroll down, being above the fold becomes less of a necessity.

This is born out of the wide variety of screen resolutions available to the user now. Despite numerous studies and statistics, it is very difficult for a web designer to predict the screen size being used by visitors on their site. Whereas a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach would have been fine 10 years ago, now it is vital that a design can be easily navigated for any screen on any device. The iPad, iPhone and other tablet and mobile devices have emphasised the need for a designer to produce a site that works for any user.

Content priority is still an important aspect to work out for a web designer and it cannot be understated how vital it is for the best and most relevant aspects to be near the top of the page. For usability and SEO purposes it is vital you have the content that is more important for the site at the top of the page. But the notion of ‘the fold’ is becoming a blurred concept and needs to be replaced with overall fluidity in design.

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