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I'm currently researching about the validity of the "above the fold" concept in 2014.

So far the generally agreed-upon facts I've detected about the "above the fold" are:

  1. Scrolling is now natural for users, so the assumption that content below the fold is unread is basically a myth.
  2. Anyway, when possible, important content should still be displayed above the fold.
  3. Design is fundamental to suggest that there is more to read below the page.

I'm now looking for studies, data or researches that can answer these questions:

  1. Does it still makes sense in 2014 to talk about "above the fold"? Why?
  2. How have mobile devices, responsive design and techniques like infinite scroll have the "above the fold" perception/interpretation (if they have)?

Most studies I've read (including questions here on UX.SE) date back to 2011 or before, so I'm looking for more recent (2013/2014) data (if possible including information about mobile / responsive issues).

Thanks for sharing :)

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    SE isn't really for gathering opinions, see our don't ask page on the help center. – doppelgreener Sep 22 '14 at 7:01
  • Thanks for reminding that. In the question I've repeated twice that I'm looking for "data, studies, researches" so I thought it was clear. I'm editing the question removing the "in your opinion", so I hope it's 100% unambiguous. Thanks again for reminding. – Eleonora Zucconi Sep 22 '14 at 7:04
  • possible duplicate of Designing for the fold – msp Sep 22 '14 at 7:17
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    @EleonoraZucconi That's a big improvement. Thanks for that edit. – doppelgreener Sep 22 '14 at 7:19
  • @mspaper : that question and its answers (as many more similar ones here on SE) date back to 2010. I think they're outdated, that's why I'm seekeing for more recent data. Thanks anyway for checking. – Eleonora Zucconi Sep 22 '14 at 7:21
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In 2014, we as UX practitioners might be widely aware that the validity of 'above the fold' is a myth.

However, the OP uses an interesting expression in the question by asking if the validity of 'above the fold' concept is a myth.

Therein lies an important distinction.

Is the myth that the fold has an effect, or that the fold even exists.

Equally - it's important not just to understand that 'Above the fold' is a myth, but why it's a myth.

Kissmetrics have an article about Why “The Fold” Is A Myth – And Where To Actually Put Your Calls To Action. In this article they make some very relevant observations, for example:

  • When it's said that only 20% of people read below the fold, that's because only 20% of people read past the headline. The fold is a red herring.

  • [on calls to action] "higher conversion rates have nothing to do with whether the button is above the fold, and everything to do with whether the button is below the right amount of good copy."

Users who want to scroll, will scroll. Users who don't have the motivation to scroll... well clearly you need to improve the motivation to scroll.

Consider instead this question:

How would you design a web page that would reduce the likelihood of users staying on the page and scrolling down?

Does this have answers? Of course it does, and plenty of them!

For every tactic that you can think of to stop users scrolling, then the more you do the opposite, the more you are enticing users to scroll down.

What I'm getting at here is if we let go of the baggage that comes with the term 'fold', and we accept that there is visible content and content below that, then we simply need to apply all the best practices that we have always done and just move on.

Is 'Above the fold' still relevant in 2014? No - it never was relevant, but through bad design, we can (unintentionally) put in all sorts of barriers that simply prevent users from subconsciously realizing that they can/should scroll.

Is good design still relevant in 2014? I don't think I need to answer that.

In short - we don't need to focus on this above the fold thing - we just need to focus on good content delivered in a well considered design. If we do that, user's won't even think about scrolling, they'll just do it naturally.


Footnote:

I'm often curious (or critical) of questions that ask for research. Does it matter if you find studies and research? What will you change if you find a study? Are you going to make changes to your design approach if you find a study that proves 'above the fold' is a thing, or not a thing? Does finding research satisfy curiosity, an argument, or does it dramatically change the content and design strategy of the product? If you're already using all the best practices you can, then what can you improve on?

I myself am guilty of asking questions in the past that ask for studies or research. Published research is all very good, but in retrospect, this was not because I really thought that the research might dramatically change what I do, but because it (might) make the question less likely to be closed as it shows I'm not just asking for opinions.

  • Sometimes you need to convince "others." HiPPOs are best countered by research papers. – Mayo Sep 22 '14 at 14:06
  • @Mayo That's one reason :) – Roger Attrill Sep 22 '14 at 14:14
  • Also, even if there are studies, doesn't prove anything - you have examine the studies' conditions to see if they relevant i.e. device type, screen size, scroll load time, what the user was looking for, was the info before the folder related somehow to that, ... – Danny Varod Jan 27 '15 at 23:10
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The above-the-fold will still be relevant in terms of portraying the look and feel of a website. It may no longer be relevant for the users with regards to the actual content but a great above-the-fold can impose clear purpose and remarkable branding.

  • So can a good title bar. – Danny Varod Jan 27 '15 at 23:10
  • If this is not true, then why do stackexchange sites have awesome look-and-feel above-the-fold sections? – Abel Melquiades Callejo Jan 27 '15 at 23:17
  • Primary and secondary title bars, after which they are the same above and below the fold - only the content changes (until the footer). – Danny Varod Jan 27 '15 at 23:36
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Scrolling is natural and always has been natural for users as long as scrolling has existed.

Above-the-fold is not a myth because if your user doesn't understand what is occurring on this page when it loads they are not going to scroll.

I don't want to scroll completing forms, I'll scroll for an article. This is no different than 1999.

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