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I've always been of the belief that "the fold" is a bit of a misnomer, and indeed there's a whole bunch of research (including material posted on this very site) suggesting that users don't have a problem with scrolling down the page to explore content. While it's obviously crucial that important information and calls to action are made visually prominent and easy locatable, this has always been more of a conversation around weighting of design and a 'visual hierarchy' to me.

Recently I've been working with a client who's extremely focused around this concept of "the fold", and the most important thing to them is making sure that X Y and Z all sit above the fold at all times.

I've tried to inform them that browser/resolution statistics and web-enabled devices are so variable there is no one true "page fold", users will happily scroll down the page to continue reading content provided they are interested, and that it's not necessary to cram all of content and functionality into the uppermost part of the page. They don't seem to be buying it however, and I was wondering about how I could go about trying to get this message across.

In your experience, what is the best way to teach clients about the reality of "the fold" (and other myths like 'the homepage must have everything'...) without just sending them links to web articles?

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Here's another thread here on UX.SE with more discussions: ux.stackexchange.com/questions/5024/page-fold-myth-or-reality –  JonW May 4 '11 at 15:49
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Users may not have a problem scrolling down the page when they want to explore content, but first you must to convince them to explore. Important content should definitely be above the fold. But like you say, that doesns't mean everything has to be above the fold. –  Baa May 4 '11 at 18:46
    
Good feedback already, just a bit tangential POV: It's worth trying, but in the end, it's the client. Don't push to far. –  peterchen May 5 '11 at 11:54

7 Answers 7

up vote 16 down vote accepted

I would cite real research (don't actually ask them to read it, they probably won't) that proves your point, and show them some well-known sites as examples.

Also take the information from those links you mentioned and apply it to their website. Be confident in your assessments and advice.

Your clients aren't totally wrong about "the fold" though. Take a look at this article from useit.com:

Web users spend 80% of their time looking at information above the page fold. Although users do scroll, they allocate only 20% of their attention below the fold.

http://www.useit.com/alertbox/scrolling-attention.html

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Great point about confidence. We are the professionals, not the client. That's why they pay us, right?! Generally, if you offer advice in a confident manner, the client will graciously accept that advice. –  Baa May 4 '11 at 18:38
    
Citing the discussion part of user studies in particular seems to me like a nice understandable way of pointing out the 'average result' how must users interact with an interface. As in the quoted example in this answer. ;p –  Steven Jeuris May 12 '11 at 11:38

Also, note that X, Y, and Z don't necessarily have to fit completely above the fold. In some cases they can peek above the fold a bit, enough to be noticed and tell the user that there's something of interest down there.

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Wee Nudge is supposedly dedicated to exactly this end. Don't know how effective it is, though.

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It really depends from website to website. If you go on a news website, the users will more likely scroll to browse through the information. If you go to a presentation website, like Apple's, you see that the focus is on one product, above the fold.

So, you will have to analyze the website of each client, see what it's more important for them and see if the fold is relevant for them or not. After you did your analysis, you will have to come with the right arguments to convince them that that is the right way.

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This is a tough conversation, the sites that DA01 provides as examples all have a similar visual interface trait in that they promote scrolling due to the visual design suggesting that there is more to read.

Often the fold becomes an issue if pages 'look' like everything is in view at certain resolutions ensuring that visually this is not the case can overcome the fold problem.

There are many analytic tools available that return how far users have scrolled a page when they visit. In addition quite a few case studies that focus on email newsletters are available that show users will scroll as far as needed generally because they are becoming aware that whats 'above the fold' is in fact promotional, marketing or advertising that is not really of interest or value.

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I usually ask them if they use Facebook. Or Amazon. Or Google. Or Netflix. And then I ask them if they scroll.

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Everything does not need to be above the fold, however the important things do. In my field, eCommerce, the fold has been very real.

Putting a call to action above the fold has increased our conversion rates on average. Same thing with e-mail campaigns.

I have found this simple tool from google to be very helpful in determining the fold area. http://browsersize.googlelabs.com/

Also UX Myths is a great resource to use when trying to defend against these Myths. I highly recommend it.

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+1 for UX Myths. The rest should be cut from here and pasted to one of the questions that are specifically about the fold. –  Patrick McElhaney May 4 '11 at 18:43
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+293 for recommending UX Myths. Good reading. –  Ray Mitchell May 5 '11 at 0:48
    
1+ for linking this resource; going straight into my bookmarks. Fantastic! :-) –  Chris Myhill May 5 '11 at 8:57

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