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Why All The Fuss About Placing Content ‘Above The Fold?’

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Every now and then I’ll get a request from a client to place certain key elements of the page ‘above the fold.’ For example, I might be asked to place that call to action button higher up on the screen so that the user doesn’t have to scroll down to see it. And that’s what ‘above the fold’ means in web design. It’s the part of the web page that is viewable without scrolling further down the page.

The concept originally comes from the newspaper industry where big stories and eye-catching images are placed at the top part of the page before being folder over. This is the most visible part of the paper. The concept found its way into web design and many people still place great importance on this, but certain studies have shown that it’s really not that big of a deal.

Dispelling the Myth of the ‘Page Fold’

Where is that magical ‘above the fold’ area of a web page anyway? Doesn’t it depend on the screen size of the person viewing the page? It sure does, but from visitor statistics we’re able to tell the screen size of the largest percentage of users. Regardless of this, there are compelling arguments and studies against placing so much emphasis on the ‘above the fold’ concept. In fact it could be a bad idea. I would agree that there may be a few exceptions, but overall it doesn’t make too much sense.

Instead of rehashing what’s already been covered, here are some links to sites that have done a great job of explaining why ‘above the fold’ is a concept we really should move away from when it comes to web design.

The Wikipedia article provides additional links. When this topic comes up with a client, I like to offer a different perspective so at least there is the awareness that this might not be the best approach. Many times we go along with popular opinion without thinking too much about the ‘why’, and asking relevant questions.

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