The fold. A term I hadn’t heard before coming to Elliance a little more than a year ago. If you’re sitting there clueless like I was, the fold is a term coined by the newspaper industry to describe the natural fold of a newspaper. You know, because newspapers always come folded in half. In the newspaper industry, the information above the fold is vital to sales. Since newspapers stack on the shelf at the grocery store, the stuff you throw in the top half has to be exciting enough to make readers want to purchase the paper.
Sometime after scrolling was introduced to the internet (mid to late ’90s) web designers stole this term and started applying the same concept to the wonderful world wide web. Except, their thinking was that they had to cram all the important information above the fold because people simply wouldn’t scroll down, even if they had the means to do so. This may have been true ten years ago… but let me be the first to tell you that the internet fold is dead. Kaput. Gone. Over. Poof. Wingardium Leviosa.
The simple truth is that people do scroll. People like to scroll. (Especially we millennials.) Chartbeat, found that 66 percent of user time is actually spent below the fold.
Huge, Inc., a digital agency, conducted a study of users’ scrolling habits over a three-day period. They tested a variety of page lengths and designs on 48 participants. Their findings? “Almost all participants scrolled, no matter what.”
Smart phones, tablets and even desktop mice are designed for scrolling. Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and numerous popular publications like Time, for example, have put the fold to rest by introducing the concept of infinite scrolling to their designs. Design shack notes one benefit of infinite scrolling is that users stay on a page longer because new content continues to appear.
I’m not saying that the information that loads first in your browser screen isn’t vital to scoring user engagement, because it most certainly is. But, don’t be afraid to make your page longer and throw some of the good stuff in later.