Blasting the Myth of the Fold

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banda_headphones_sm.gif Jeff Parks had the opportunity to speak with Milissa Tarquini on her article, “Blasting the Myth of the Fold”: They talk about how this long held rule in web design is being de-bunked by web analytics and user testing, as well as how this will impact design and development processes based on screen resolution and browser compatibility.

We discuss…

*Defining the Fold*
Milissa outlines the different terms that people use for the fold. Anything that falls below that point in the screen where the user has to scroll is the fold

*Back in the day*
In the early 90’s at AOL scrolling was prohibited. Milissa talks about the need for balance in designing for the fold while being creative.

*A moving target*
She goes on to talk about the challenge of designing for the fold with different screen resolutions and browsers and how in her opinion no one should be designing for the fold.

*Content is still king*
According to Milissa it all comes down to the quality of the content. If content is engaging and the user is interested in the information, they will follow the path to what they are seeking, regardless of the medium.

*Interaction Design is everywhere*
As Derek Featherstone pointed out in his discussion with Christina about Accessibility, IXDA plays an important role when designing with how users will find content on a page.

*Not the last, but a new frontier*
Milissa addresses social media tools such as Blogs, Facebook, and MySpace and how these new web services reinforce the notion that users do scroll. As Eric Reiss commented, “…perhaps the new frontier is the bottom of the page.”


  1. Thanks to Milissa and Jeff for dealing with this topic! I’ve found that this becomes a major point of contention when working on a web project- especially in the context of planning for advertisement content. There emerges a major contradiction when the client wants to flood their sites with ads, yet is irate when site content ends up ‘below the fold!’ I added a link to this podcast next to the original ‘blasting the myth’ article link on a blog post I wrote recently on the topic, which you can read here:

  2. I remember similar conversations while at AOL. There is a distinction though regarding what the fold actually means to a user. For instance, when a user is perhaps the most focused on “search” and “filter” actions, the fold truncates the options available on a landing page.

    Here useful information is certainly given priority and is placed above. As Ads do contribute greatly in allowing us to provide an experience the process then become a ballet for UI, Product, Project, and Visual Design stakeholders to focus the product so as to provide those “query-related” bits of information clearly as the user approaches the product or site.

    However, after users have found the material their looking for, following these paths of interest from the initial page, content is no longer as task-oriented, rather it takes on a new meaning, “juicy” for consumption. In this regard users are not just more likely to scroll but will scroll to take it in fully.

    Monitors certainly contribute to what and where assets are placed, however the move has been to look beyond. As we become more mobile and demands for information are greater it then becomes a UX priority to restructure the experience for a more use-, rather than task-oriented approach.

  3. Fortunately this problem is becoming less of a problem as users get more used to scrolling. Now if we can only get the designers to design below the fold!

  4. I think it is not so much the designers as the client. Some market segments are more advanced than other. Look at the homogeneity of automotive home pages. Very rare do they scroll, likewise with deeper content. It is a challenge to get this market to accept longer pages, as they have been indoctrinated with the mantra to put everything above the fold. Testing and demonstrating that real users have no problem with the fold is needed to convince them. Then the battle comes with the vertical hierarchy of content, which is another story.

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