HTML, CSS and stuff

Richard Stephenson, freelance website design & development

The myth of the fold

For as long as I can remember people have been arguing about scrolling on websites.

Is it a bad thing? Do users scroll? Do we have to cram everything into the top of the page?

And then there is the ‘myth of the fold’…

Back in the late 90’s scrolling was often considered a bad thing. If your site wouldn’t fit on one screen you were doing something wrong. AOL didn’t allow scrolling at all. Anything that wasn’t immediately visible when a web page loaded might never be seen. The problem with this was that screens were a lot smaller back then fitting your design into 640x480 pixels was a challenge to say the least (remembering to include space for scroll bars). Tiny pixel fonts and complicated navigation ruled. Spreading content over lots of pages was common place too. Go to page 2.

Just kidding. And as the web grew up screens got bigger. We had 800px pixels and then 1024px and everything was good in the world. But the arguments about scrolling never really went away.

So what is the ‘myth of the fold’.

There is a magic line about 300px400px500px from the top of your page that all your important content must appear above. Or puppies die.

Pretty obvious really. But then you can’t fold a screen in half. And even when people read newspapers - from where the myth originates - people still have the intelligence to turn the page over and read the insides too.

So the big question is do users scroll?

Yes. No. It depends. If they can be bothered. But mostly yes.

CX Partners have been asking the same question for 6 years.

So if users know there is some interesting stuff further down the page most people are OK with scrolling to find it. And if we make the scrolling process itself engaging and fun then we get sites like these.

Categories: Design, HTML