Based on a website found and loved by Studio Seventeen, the debate of ‘above the fold’ design has been a big topic of conversation here in the studio.
For some designers, the ATF principle is their first rule of design, placing every piece of important content above the bottom of the screen they design on. Their imaginary fold dictates the placement of content on the web page being designed, allowing for the key pieces of information to be seen first – or at least, at a first glance. Not only does this create an uncomplicated structure for the page, but working to the ATF rulings helps to build easy and simplified templates for future pages.
But does it actually matter? In 2018, statistics are revealing that more and more users are visiting web pages through a wide variety of screens, with differing dimension sizes across the board. From tablets and mobiles to monitors and laptops, the range of screen sizes for designers to anticipate is growing, making it impossible to determine an exact line of fold. The introduction of unlimited scroll arguably means that there is no fold at all – with users automatically scrolling throughout the page to take in as much information as possible from a first look.
In the era of responsive web design, the concept of an Above The Fold is outdated and impossible to predict from a UX perspective.
Web page users in 2018 also don’t have the same UX behaviours as those who used web pages in the 1990s. Where 90’s users were, typically, focused on the top section of a web page due to slow internet speeds and laggy dial-up, the users of 2018 have an entirely different approach to the web. They want information quickly and are adapted to speed-reading, picking out pieces of content from an entire site, rather than just the upper half. The fold, in this instance, is irrelevant. In the era of responsive web design, the concept of an Above The Fold is outdated and impossible to predict from a UX perspective.
Ultimately, whilst there are still some web designers who are able to uniquely and innovatively make the web fold work, the principle itself has little place in the world of digital design.