Is there life below “The Fold?”
“Have you ever been on a webpage and thought: I’d love to read the rest of this, but I’m just not prepared to scroll down”?
This post is inspired by Paddy Donnelly’s excellent “Life Below 600px” article which nails superbly an issue within Web Design that we’ve been banging our heads against for years.
Since ‘Web time’ began, (which for us was when Photoshop 3 and Dreamweaver 1.2 came out in about 1998) you wouldn’t believe how many client meetings we have attended or project tenders we have read where it has been insisted that “WEBSITE MUST NOT SCROLL”. Brrrrr, it’s like nails down a chalkboard.
We’ve often heard over the years how: “no content must be out of view when within an 800x600 browser window”. It’s unbelievable isn’t it?
Possibly to blame for the ‘no scroll’ stipulation was a lot of credence given to “user experience experts” during the early to mid 2000’s, who all claimed that visitors wouldn’t ever be bothered to scroll down a web page to learn more or read any further information. Hit them with the “Prize” content straight away was the philosophy.
Learn to love those scrollbars
Of course, it’s good advise to have certain content prioritised and have “call-to-actions” or “user goals” very visible on your webpage. It’s also a good tactic sometimes to have the “Prize” lower down a page, as there is a selling job to do before anyone would take the “Prize”, a confidence to be gained by the visitor and after a careful build up and persuasion …then offer the “Prize”. Your conversion rate of “Prize” takers can be often better this way.
However, to insist that a page shouldn’t go beyond a certain ‘drop’ (The Fold) has definitely been sometimes a request you just can’t dissuade a client against.
As a result, it’s been true that sometimes very real negative knock on’s come in to play:
- Designs have been forced to be squashed within a very limited space
- Levels of text required for adequate SEO purposes is not reached
- Fixed dimension letterbox shaped layouts have used ‘frameset’ techniques to introduce scrollbars into small text areas, rather than allowing a page to naturally scroll — creating accessibility problems.
Thankfully, “The times they are a changin’, and the above the fold website is becoming a thing of the past we are very pleased to report.
So if you see our eyes close and foreheads fall onto the meeting table with a bang, you know the Fold is to blame, and you’ve probably just dropped the F-Bomb!