The fold is dead.

June 1st, 2018
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There is a persistent notion in the digital arena of a mysterious boundary that end users won’t ever venture past: a virtual hedge that ultimately controls the success or failure of a website. But how important is it, really? 

No Bullshit (agree)

Jason Groenewald, UX/UI Designer

The limiting idea of the ‘fold’ – the top section of your website, which is the first thing users will see when visiting your page – is a hangover from the 90’s, where scrolling was a newfangled hurdle amongst developers and designers.

This ever-present fear is still alive and kicking today: if content isn’t placed above this mysterious line, it won’t ever be seen. Although as is easily visible from the evolution of the sites we consume daily, the web has evolved considerably over the past 20 years. Viewports now come in all manner of shapes and forms; scrolling is just as ubiquitous as privacy violations and drawing an arbitrary line between fluid elements and pieces of adaptive content has become moot. The fold is simply dead. 

Chartbeat, a data analytics provider, analysed data from 2 billion web visits and found that 66% of attention on a normal media page is spent below the fold, and people used the scrollbar on 76% of the pages – regardless of the length of the page.

It is all about a cohesive and motivated narrative that runs down the page, and not about what content the user sees first.  As uncomfortable as this idea may be, it is the reality of the responsive web that we now deal with on a daily basis.

Bullshit (disagree)

Mikey Wallis, Technical Lead

The problem with the words ‘best practice’ is that they imply what is best for one, is best for all. In the digital industry making that mistake can be the deciding factor in whether your product makes it off the ground, or whether your brand dies in its first year.

Leading by data should always be the top priority when designing a digital solution. Using tools like Hotjar, which measure the user analytics of your users on the web, you can easily see different behaviours emerging between different markets.

On our own Platinum Seed website we see most users generally scroll to the bottom of the page. On other platforms we’ve developed, however, such as the #IAMNEXT Sessions for Russian Bear, we see a huge drop-off after the first third of the screen height. For the latter demographic, a great deal of users don’t make it to the bottom of the page.

The target market for Platinum Seed, for example, would mostly be web professionals – probably in an office, connected to a WiFi network and using a laptop or a big screen. Russian Bear’s audience, however, is mostly made up of on-the-go, data-sensitive youth who are less likely to take their time in discovering all the information on the page.

Applying either of our learnings to the wrong target market would be disastrous for the performance of the platform, as they completely contradict each other.

The verdict?

The overall learning (which any digital expert worth his weight should already know) is that data is king. When deciding on a design you should lean less on arbitrary restrictions, and rather place your user at the centre of your design: what will speak most directly to the person who is using this website?

There are a plethora of tools available to make this task simpler. At Platinum Seed, some of the resources we rely on to make sure we are basing our design and UX decisions on robust data include:

  • Hotjar, which enables us to analyze things such as heatmaps, conversion funnels and usability recordings

  • Hubspot (and other consolidated, large-scale systems), which allows us to A/B test campaigns and gain an overall view of consumer behaviour

  • Surveys and in person usability tests, which allows us to get accurate, real-world feedback and data on UI and UX points

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